November 4, 2015

Art Blogger of the Week: Vivienne Chow in Hong Kong

Vivienne Chow as pictured in her blog post "How far will you go for a dress?"

I'm impressed. How I love art critics that speak up and ask questions about what everybody takes for granted. Vivienne Chow is such a writer. Sure, her biography is remarkable: in 2004 she was named one of the world's best young journalists at the inaugural Berlinale Talent Press, and in 2014 she founded the Cultural Journalism Campus, a non-profit educational initiative to promote cultural journalism and art criticism. But Vivienne Chow's writing for her blog Culture Shock. Digital rants on cultural anomalies is what thrills me most. Take as an example that post on Hong Kong's "I don't get it-phobia": "Asking Hongkongers to decide what an art work means to them is no difference from asking them to stop speculating in the stock market or property market. It's almost a mission impossible. Most Hongkongers don't like the journey to search for an answer. Cut the chase, they WANT a model answer. [...] This "I don't get it-phobia" is an incurable disease in Hong Kong. But little do many know, that things that you don't get are in fact great stuff, because they will force you to think, which is what the authorities fear the most."
By the way, what I also love about Vivienne Chow is that her mind set is quite pop. She doesn't confine herself to contemporary art as such, she also inquires about cultural phenomenons in a larger sense, for instance by asking: "How far will you go for a dress?" I follow Vivienne Chow eagerly on Twitter and on Facebook and I can only advise you to do so too!  

Art scene
"Hong Kong is being put on the map of the art world thanks to the vibrant art market. Compared to other countries and regions in Asia, Hong Kong's status as an international financial and trade centre makes businesses easy - including the art business. Headline-grabbing auctions, the launch of international art fairs and top Western galleries opening outposts in Hong Kong have put the city under the spotlight. In addition, the art world is watching construction of the HK$21.6 billion West Kowloon Cultural District,​ plus the opening of other cultural landmarks such as Central Police Station. 

The art scene in Hong Kong is very much market-driven. Despite all the buzz, few homegrown artists can benefit from this trend. Many are still suffering from the lack of resources, high rent and high living costs, which force them to take on other odd jobs in order to support their artistic endeavour. The city's lack of a holistic cultural policy that maps arts and cultural productions with the economy and the city's development makes it even harder for long-term sustainable development. The lack of a well-informed group of audiences is another issue, as arts and culture are still seen as hobby or extra-curricular activities rather than part of people's daily lives." 

"​I enjoy writing creatively and I like sharing my thoughts. These were the ideas behind the blog that I started in 2011. It was intended to be a fun thing for myself outside of my work as a newspaper journalist covering cultural affairs. As there are limitations to writing for a newspaper, a lot of stories and perspectives can't make it to publication. So I might as well write them all out in my personal blog in a style I like.

Compared to writing for a newspaper or other publications, blogging is much more personal and it offers greater freedom to art writing, for you don't have to conform to any particular style. I write much more extensively than just art - I write about anything but from a cultural perspective. The question I have in my head all the time is that - how so things happen in our society affect our culture? I think I tend to ask questions rather than offering answers."  

​"I'm trained as a journalist specialised in cultural affairs, which means besides art, my main area is cultural policy and cultural and creative industries. I researched on Hong Kong cultural policy for my master degree in cultural studies, which I would like to pursue further. Art is an integral part of culture but while there are already plenty of people dedicated themselves to art writing, I'd like to focus more on the cultural anomalies and how cultural policy affect our society's cultural development. There aren't that many writings about cultural policy and I'd like to further develop that area." 

"Well I have Google ads on my blog but not they don't generate any profits. Blogging certainly helps me think and it helps raising my profile in the digital world. I guess it brings in value that is not exactly in monetary terms. "​

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