Calling all artists! Enter the Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize

Elva Lai, “Family Photo Album: Washing”, winner of last year’s Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize

Are you a Hong Kong artist? Do you want to use your work to raise awareness of human rights issues? Then submit an entry for the Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize. Simple!

Established last year by the Justice Centre Hong Kong, the prize (HKHRAP is a bit of a mouthful) is a way for local artists to tap into new audiences by tackling issues through visual media. This year, artists are invited to submit work on the theme of human trafficking and modern slavery. 

Judges include Kacey Wong, leading Hong Kong based contemporary visual artist and activist; Claire Hsu, co-founder and director of Asia Art Archive; and Judge Kevin Zervos, of the High Court of Hong Kong.

Shortlisted entries will be exhibited at the Sundaram Tagore Gallery on Hollywood Road, with the winning piece announced on Dec. 10 (International Human Rights Day). All shortlisted works will also be auctioned by Christie’s that night. The proceeds will be used to support the Justice Centre’s work to protect the rights of refugees and survivors of modern slavery. The winner will also be awarded HKD30,000 (yep, that’s right!).

The deadline for this year’s entries is 6pm on Wednesday, Nov. 5. Artists can read the criteria and apply by visiting the Prize’s website.

While still a fairly new competition, the Prize attracted 300 attendees at the auction last year, and the winner Elva Lai went on to become an artist-in-residence in Provence, France. Elva’s winning entry, “Family Photo Album: Washing” depicted the lives of a family who migrated to Hong Kong from Mainland China during the 1960s.

Talking about the relevance of human trafficking to Hong Kong, Aleta Miller, Executive Director of Justice Centre, said “Modern slavery and human trafficking [are] on our doorstep: as an important regional hub and both a destination and transit territory for human trafficking, Hong Kong is currently failing to comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. We want to raise this issue amongst the Hong Kong public.”

Claire Hsu, the executive director of Asia Art Archive, believes that artists are capable of addressing issues that many societies find difficult to discuss or deal with, and added: “While the immediate effects of art on society may not always be apparent, what the arts does – like nothing else – is open up a very different kind of space for the discussion and imagination of an alternate future”.

We agree, Claire! 

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