Target:
致香港藝術館總館長 鄧海超先生
Region:
Hong Kong
Website:
HKADC.blogspot.com

香港藝術館上月展開其策劃的《路易威登:創意情感》特別項目,基本上令使到運用公帑的藝術館,淪成為了商家的宣傳平臺;作為一公營部門/一所公共藝術館,香港藝術館對於自身與商業機構合作的潛在風險警覺度不足,對公共資源的合適運用把關不力,我們作為香港本地藝術工作者,對此狀況感到非常的憤怒。

是次事件無疑牽涉多個層次的問題,但我們認為,事件的根本問題,在於「特別項目」為何會/是如何出現。我們並不想僅從最後出來的種種現象,判斷藝術與商業在展覽是否走得過近云云;我們憤怒的,更是在於為何這種官商交涉之事會能夠成為可能的那基礎。對我們而言,這是在事件眾多可能的討論項目中,最該得到首要關注的項目。

我們質疑,特別項目的如何出現、成為可能,本身就是揭示出是次事件為「官商勾結」一宗!否則,藝術館怎會既沒有預視、亦至今仍不甚警覺到此次特別項目本身牽涉的商業元素的敏感性,並不合適於其現時作為一所以公帑營運的公共藝術館的身份與形象去進行? 藝術館容許這一步發生,就經已埋種下惡根。


2009/6/19



關注香港藝術館小組公開信(二)

致香港藝術館總館長鄧海超先生:

自本月6日呈上了抗議藝術館策劃《路易威登:創意情感》的公開信後,遺憾十日內仍未收到回覆,嘗致電留下聯絡亦無人跟進,我們對於藝術館如此輕視關心藝術館出現不該發展之市民投訴,深表失望!

當前,我們除再次要求(1)香港藝術館就我們上次提出的問題仔細作書面答覆及(2)安排公開對話外,
我們特別列出在是次事件中,三個重大問題面向(1a / 2a / 3a)以及就此藝術館需要作出具體補救的合適行動建議(1b1-3 / 2b / 3b)。列項如下:

1 a. 藝術館策劃展覽機制的專業性失職:

1b1. 全面公開是次特殊項目的工作流程和各級相關負責人員名單

1b2. 把展覽籌委會的會議紀錄公開,除讓公眾能認識藝術館的定位方向,也望透過這些有關藝術、策展、藝術/博物館學的討論,讓公眾也同能思考在進場欣賞藝術品以外的相關藝術專業知識;

1b3. 檢討未來接洽、策劃、審批展覽的程序機制、加入獨立意見、透明性等重要成份
 
2 a. 藝術館與商業品牌的合作有所傾斜,縱容品牌宣傳及灌輸消費主義:

2b. 由於香港藝術館在選擇合作伙伴的條件上,容易偏向選擇財力豐厚的伙伴(正而合適以全球化奢侈商品集團為後臺的私人基金會),使展覽大有機會變相成為商業品牌的宣傳平臺,展覽亦有傾斜助長消費主義之嫌。正由於現在展覽的方向已有偏差(單一化),藝術館該擔起應有的教育責任,以培育市民的獨立批判性思維為目標,把展覽所牽涉的商業/藝術/藝術館關係、全球化消費主義、創意產業的意識形態、物質主義的生活、社會貧富階級分化、官商勾結…等議題,補添一系列的公開講座、工作坊等,盡力以補充配套達致一種觀點上的平衡及均勢的探討;我們建議不同領域的社會人仕及市民,能一同提供或參與新一輪的配套活動,讓觀眾能有非由館方提供的展版/單張/導賞等的選擇可能,另亦要求館方重審現時提升特別展覽門票的安排,尤其該貫徹星期三免費入場安排的根本精神

3a. 藝術館欠缺與市民(持份者)公開對話的平臺和文化:

3b. 藝術館該需定期舉行聽證會收集及回應市民的意見

最後,我們期望藝術館會對於館方這次專業警覺度不足、不當使用公帑致歉,並主動安排作出補救,為香港藝術的發展邁出真正有益的舉動。由於遲遲未見館方對於主辦公開對話表態及行動,以後我們會把一些我們安排組織的公開活動,預先知會藝術館方,並希望藝術館方每次都能夠派出代表,參予這些民間自發關注藝術館的活動及進行真正的開放對話。

一群關注藝術館發展的市民
召集人: 劉建華、程展緯、關尚智、羅至傑、羅文樂、黃國才、李俊峰、唐偉傑、譚棨禧、俞若玫、林嵐、黃俊邦、魂游、黃靜



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Citizen’s PROTEST and PETITION against H.K. Museum of Art staging the LV Show (26/6/09)

Most of the exhibition halls of the Hong Kong Museum of Art are now occupied by Louis Vuitton: A Passion For Creation which is organized (however not curated!) by the Hong Kong Museum of Art. Both old leather wares and recent products between the brand and collaborative artists are shown. Another part of the show is related to its art foundation, in which model of its private museum and its collected works (as well as commissions) are exhibited. The part which invites local artists is put aside on the third floor. This event uses the brand name directly as its title, shows the brand products inside the exhibition halls; even the outer walls of the museum are wrapped all over with monograms of the brand.

Runs with public money, the public museum devaluated itself into a promotional platform for a luxury goods corporation. It exposes the inability of the museum to allocate public resources properly. Moreover, the museum is not having enough awareness of the penetration of commercial elements in its collaboration between art and a commercial giant; it fails in safeguarding its own profession and dignity well.

Because of the criticisms and demonstrations by different art practitioners, as well as the reports made by the traditional and internet media, more and more people are gradually concerned with this incident. Together with the support from some of the local artists who participate in this show, “Hong Kong Museum of Art Concern Group” is formed. After sending the first public letter to the chief curator, a forum which attracted more than twenty people was held outside the museum, and the group has identified three major problems concerning this incident.

In the below, we will first list out the reasoning of our three major critiques, and follow then with suggestions of concrete remedy the museum could take.

1. PROFESSIONAL FAILURE BY THE PRESENT PROGRAM PLANNING MECHANISM

The museum subsidized $5,900,000 of public treasury for this present show, which is ten times the cost of the previous exhibition Charming Experience that concerns the minority groups and encourages interaction between museum and people of all level of ability. What’s more important, is that even a smaller scale proposal like Charming Experience went through at least a relatively more open application process and was selected by a group of committee formed by art professionals. However, for the LV show which costs almost 80% of the “exhibition and collection” item of expenses of the Museum of Art in year 08/09, was brought to Hong Kong owed to our Chief Secretary for Administration, Henry Tang Ying-yen, who spare his time during his trip to Europe promoting Hong Kong as the Asia wine centre in May 2008, and met with the chairman of the LVMH group. The final contract was indeed signed between the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and LV as late as in April this year.

At the moment, it is difficult to confirm whether Henry Tang has done any kind of personal faciliation in between, but the defends the chief curator of HKMA Tang Hoi-chiu posted is clearly nonsensical. Tang said that proposal of this exhibition was examined and approved by a highly independent museum programme planning committee. However, this committee is actually composed of the chief curator and his subordinates, including the curators from the Modern Art department, Chinese antiques department, and the Xubaizhai Collection, as well as the head of the design department and venue management department. The Museum of Art has long been criticized for its governmental bureaucratic structure, and is not led by a professional and accountable curatorial director. No wonder the proposal of an exhibition with such clear controversy is easily passed, as people in the team are all more used to follow orders and most lack comphrensive knowledge of contemporary art. Their further neglectance to consult the museum advisers on this matter is as well blameworthy.

Remedies: Thus, we urge for a complete disclosure of the exhibition programming decision processing and all the staff members of differents rank that are involoved in this project, so as to let people survey how this project is allowed under the current system. And the agreement between the museum and the co-operating party should be made as much public as possible, in order to let people examine if the museum has betrayed its artistic principles and professionalism. In the future, the mechanism of procedures of negotiation, planning and approval of exhibitions should be revised. More consultations should be made with an aim to increase transparency and accountability. Making the minutes of the exhibition planning committee public can help the public to learn and think more about art related knowledge like curatorship, art and museology, beyond their art viewing experience inside the gallery, and gaining a better understanding of the position and direction of the museum. Public should have the rights to participate in the discussion and formulation of the museum’s agenda together.

2. LEANING TO BIG NAME BRAND, BLIND EYE TO BRAND PROMOTION &
INDOCTRINATION OF CONSUMERISM

With preconditions like “equivalence status” and existing “collection”, the museum already tends to favour choosing a cooperating partner with big standing and plentiful financial resource. Such a setting is almost a perfect invitation for a private foundation of the globalized luxury corporation to make use of the museum to do branding
“self-promotion”. From the qualification and the image of being the museum partner, to the design and content of the present exhibition, this project is highly suspected as using public treasury and museum venue to encourage consumerism. Although the chief curator says that the show is not a trade fair as nothing is being sold inside the museum, what’s the use actually of such a self-consoling bottom line? Not only quite a number of shops of this brand are located in Tsim Sha Shui not far from the museum, the flux of street promotion of the show is concentrated in Central and Tsim Sha Shui, where the shops of the brand are located. It is obviously clear that the show is closely connected with the promotion of the brand. As the museum now function as a branch, promotional wise, of the brand, it inevitably also carries the suspicion of indoctrination of consumerism.

The museum, as a public entrusted cultural institution, merges the pursuit of luxury, brand name and materialism and that of art to educate the people in the name of creativity and passion. Is it really a win-win cooperation between the government and business? Besides degrading the image of the public museum, there is indeed no essential difference between such show and others pushed through by the market itself. How about the people? To one’s surprise, the family workshop in association with the show asks the children to design their own suitcases, while such brand products are displaying upstairs and admired by its fans. Is it possible for the museum to ignore the local news which a schoolgirl goes prostitution as she wants to buy a brand name bag? The scholars hold talks on art and travel in echo with the image / selling strategy on the website of the brand. Isn’t it all promoting consumption at the end?

Indeed, it is impossible for the museum to try and maintain an impartial and neutral attitude, in face of such a hugely imbalanced exhibition. Taking up its due mission on education in order to nurture people’s critical thinking is the basic responsiblity of the museum. A series of forum discussing the effect of globalization and consumerism on the ecology of art should be provided as remedy measures. With such forums, people could at least be encouraged to think about topics like the relationship between business, art and museum, the ideology of the creative industry, and that of social stratification, the global widening of the gap between the rich and poor more in depth. Only with such associated programme, can a better balance be struck in viewpoints and counter the current narrative which seems only to praise onesidedly. There is really an urgent need to provide more comprehensive views and restore multiple readings out of the show. Furthermore, we suggest the museum to allow people from different sectors to contribute and participate in all the different additional, compensatory projects so the viewers could all enjoy the possibility of alternative choices of supplemantary materials provided beside the museum official (or -sponsor) ones.

Besides, we urge the museum to re-examine the existing policy of raising the ticket fee for special exhibition, and especially act according to the basic principle which implements free admission on Wednesday.


3. MUSEUM LACKS AN OPEN DIALOGUE PLATFORM & CULTURE
IN FACE OF ITS PUBLIC STAKEHOLDERS

There has long been a lack of face-to-face communication platform between museum and citizens.
The lack of transparency in operation all along also discouraged people to participate in the discussion of principles and directions of the museum. Far from embracing the new culture of "open dialogue", the present attitude of the museum is revealed in the very first point we raised, that it decides everything on it's own, what exhibitions to bring to the people, behind closed doors. As we filed in our complain, the museum also failed to reply us within 10 days as stated in the performance pledge of the government. It disdains complaints from citizens, and lacks the sincerity to communicate openly with its stakeholders public. We suggest the museum to hold hearings regularly so as to collect people's opinions and to respond to them. And we hope that more representatives from the museum can willingly participate in the public initiated activities concerning the museum. The museum should also treat the civil independent media equally as the other media.

We want to restate that we expect the museum to initiate swiftly a series of open dialogue to review the serious case at hand. Many different aspects are involved in this case undoubtedly, but the ruination begins as the museum connives it to take place. We query that the how and why such an exhibition came to existence, can reveal that such is actually a case of "collusion between the government and business". Otherwise, why is the museum unable to foresee and realize the seriousness of the problems involved? If the museum is still unable to answer the queries we have raised, we would insist on urging the museum to make an open apology regarding this project and to work on a remedial plan promptly in order to initiate a truly beneficial reform upon its role in the development of Hong Kong art.

Museum of Art Concern Group sincerely thanks for your attention and concern on this matter!

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