Director, photographer and former winner Katie Vadga speaks to Carolynne Dear for Hong Kong Living
“The Hong Kong Human Rights Art Prize (HKHRAP) is now in its fifth year. It’s open to all Hong Kong-born or based artists who are aged 16 or over and who enter work around the theme of human rights. The event is also an important annual fundraiser for Justice Centre.
My own path first crossed with the Justice Centre HK when I entered the HKHRAP in 2014. I had been working with my friend Eva Sultiana who is a domestic helper and together we made a series called “Can you see me yet?”. My lecturer Dr. Edwin Lai encouraged me to enter and the series went on to win the prize. In 2017 co-director Peter Augustus and I stepped up to help run the arts prize when resourcing it became difficult.
My career as a photographer began accidentally. I came to Hong Kong in 2009 from Sydney, where my husband and I were working in the media industry. I had loved art all my life, so I decided to go back to university to study Fine Art at Hong Kong Art School. Having spent many years working with newspapers and magazines, photography was a language where I could draw from my experience and reference it in my work. I never imagined the level of politics and social theory at play in visual culture.
We accept all mediums, there is no fee to enter and there are no size restrictions. The judging is conducted blind and therefore without bias. We receive entries across the spectrum of practitioners from emerging to established artists.
The judges will be looking for an artist’s ability to translate the theme into a fine art context. And also their ability to articulate their stories through their chosen medium. Last year saw a record-breaking number of entries and an incredible shortlist, with artists exhibiting work across painting, photography, video, installation and sculpture.
Entries are judged by a panel of noted experts from Hong Kong’s art community. They include Claire Hsu, co-founder & executive director of Asia Art Archive, and Kacey Wong, a prominent Hong Kong- based artist. Hsu and Wong have both been advisors to the prize since its inception in 2013. To be honest I don’t envy them; judging this competition is always a difficult task!
The winning artist this year will receive a cash prize of $35,000 and a trophy created this year by leading Hong Kong artist Jaffa Lam. Two runners-up will also receive cash prizes, and a directors’ choice award will also be given on the night.
Entries are open until October 5. The prize ceremony will be held at The Hive Spring, 3/F Remex Centre, 42 Wong Chuk Hang Road on December 8, Justice Centre.