Art with heart

The Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize closes for entries on November 1. Director and former winner Katie Vajda explains what makes a meaningful piece of work

Head shot - Square copy
Award-winning photographer, Katie Vajda

The prize is a platform to host important voices working at the intersection of art, society, business and human rights. It’s open to all Hong Kong and Hong Kong-based artists who enter an artwork around the broad theme of human rights.

The prize was launched by Justice Centre Hong Kong in 2013 and it has played a pivotal role in discovering and encouraging Hong Kong-based artists to explore the state of human rights both at home and abroad. Justice Centre works fearlessly to protect the rights of our most vulnerable community members bringing their voices into the public debate. They also provide people seeking protection in Hong Kong with free and independent legal information and assistance.

Essentially, the prize offers a platform for artists to create work without boundaries and to magnify the impact and exposure of their stories.

I won the prize in 2014 with a body of work called Can you see me yet, which explored issues around debt bondage and modern slavery in Hong Kong. I have now taken on the directorship for two years and I’m striving to engage with all sectors of the community, from artists, to institutions, the education sector, media, galleries and corporates, and start critical conversations about human rights, while raising awareness and funds for the front-line work of Justice Centre Hong Kong.

The brief is for artwork around the theme of human rights. There are 30 articles in the United Nations ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ which range broadly from, ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights…’ , to ‘Everyone has the right to education’ and ‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.’  With all nations involved in the drafting, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948.

Being artist-run for the first time this year, we are excited to open up the call for entries to all mediums. We have an incredible judging panel this year, made up of leaders in visual arts and culture. They will be looking for an artist’s ability to powerfully translate and interpret the theme into a fine art context through their chosen medium.

Importantly and in line with our commitment to diversity and inclusion, the judging will be conducted blind, meaning there will be no mention of name, gender, nationality, age or experience – the competition will be judged purely on the merit of the work.

The winner will be announced on December 9 and will receive $35,000 and an exclusive trophy by artist and judge, Kacey Wong. There are also two runners-up prizes and a Director’s Choice award. All shortlisted work will be exhibited at our event partner’s contemporary art space Blindspot Gallery, http://www.blindspotgallery.com, from December 9-16. Follow the prize and behind the scenes action @hkhumanrightsartsprize

 

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beyondthehighrise

I'm a freelance writer and editor living in Hong Kong.

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