Arts & Culture

Art & Culture: Terence Li wins Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize 2021

HONG KONG – At the Award Ceremony on 8 June, the Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize 2021 was awarded to Hong Kong artist Terence Li for his video work, Green Walls. Li’s winning piece was selected from a shortlist of 33 artworks for his depiction of the struggle of an asylum-seeking family in Hong Kong by an independent panel of international judges made up of Chantal Wong, Christy Chow, Grace Cheng, Dr. Kacey Wong, Katherine Vajda and Peter Augustus. Li received the prestigious award and a cash prize of HKD35,000, Alexandar Treves was awarded the First Runner-up Prize of HKD7,500 for his photography work Towards Leviathan, together and Departure to Nowhere, Somewhere by Shawn Pak Hin Tang received the Second Runner-up Prize of HKD5,000.

Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize 2021 Winner
Terence Li, Green Walls
Video, Single Channel, 11 min 23 s, HD, 16:9, Stereo, Colour

Now in its seventh edition, the Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize 2021 is co-hosted by Justice Centre Hong Kong and the European Union Office to Hong Kong and Macao, and supported by the Goethe-Institut Hongkong, to honour the power of art as a catalyst for social change and the defence of human dignity. With this year’s theme as Shared Future, the Prize celebrates the extraordinary resilience shown by forced migrants with the hope to shed light on a shared peaceful, dignified future for migrants and all.


Alongside the aforementioned prizes, the Justice Centre Choice Award was presented to the artist whose work best reflects the organisation’s mission to protect the rights of Hong Kong’s most vulnerable with a cash prize of HKD2,500 and the Youth Award was separately judged to encourage young artists in high schools and secondary schools to showcase their talents. Urban Variations No.1 by Rebecca Hon won the Justice Centre Choice Award and Tears of a refugee by Trinity Ro took home the Youth Award.

The InkluVision Award, supported by Goethe-Institut Hongkong, was presented to an artwork that advocates an inclusive society without limitations and defines inspiring visions alongside a cash prize of HKD9,000. Jamela Law won the InkluVision Award with her sculpture A Broken Vessel cannot Hold.

All shortlisted and winning artworks are now on showcase at the Goethe-Institut Hongkong in an exhibition curated by Hong Kong artist and writer KY Wong. Members of the public can sign up for bilingual guided tours by the curator to be held on 19 June and 24 June, with details and registration available here.

A live auction of the 6 award-winning pieces will be held on 24 June (Thursday) evening at the Goethe-Institut by Georgie Hilton of Christie’s, with tickets to the event now available on Eventbrite for a suggested, tax-deductible donation of HKD250. The remaining shortlisted works are all available to purchase via online auction through 30 June, alongside limited copies of select works’ reprints available to purchase here. All proceeds go directly to support future Arts Prize events and enable Justice Centre to continue its non-profit human rights work in Hong Kong.

“The HKHRAP is such a meaningful event, especially in Hong Kong society nowadays. Not only does it shed light on the different aspects of human rights through visual language, it is a wonderful opportunity for young artists to exhibit their works to the public in a professional gallery set up,” says Christy Chow, Judge, Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize 2021.

During the ceremony, the Head of the European Union to Hong Kong and Macao, Ambassador Thomas Gnocchi, said: “On behalf of the European Union Office to Hong Kong and Macao I wish to congratulate the winners for their poignant pieces which challenge our perception of human rights and remind us of how fragile they are. Art and creativity are particularly powerful tools to raise awareness about human rights, and the European Union is very pleased to co-host this meaningful event for the fifth consecutive year.

The European Union is based on a strong commitment to promoting and protecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law worldwide. Human rights are at the heart of the EU’s relations with other countries and regions.”

Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize 2021 Winning Artwork

This year’s winning work Green Walls by Terence Li depicts the struggle that a Sri Lankan family faces in Hong Kong after their asylum claims were refused by the authorities. His video work borrowed the green screen techinique from video post-production to invite speculations, with the scene portraying the contrast between the poem recited in the video, Seasons of Trees, and the involuntary immobility of the family. The artist hopes the audience could experience the perpetual struggle of the displaced – a life torn between hope and disappointment, freedom and confinement.

Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize 2021 First Runner-up

Caption: Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize 2021 First Runner-up – Alexander Treves, Towards Leviathan, Together

Alexander Treves’ two photographs in Towards Leviathan, Together are from different locations, linked by the tragedy of people risking and losing their lives whilst trying to find a more secure future in Europe. The main photograph is of the English Channel two nights after a family of five Kurdish-Iranian migrants drowned whilst trying to get by boat to the UK, and the smaller photograph is of a child’s armband recovered from a rocky shore on Lesvos, a Greek Island on the refugee and migrant route into Europe.


Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize 2021 Second Runner-up

Caption: Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize 2021 Second Runner-up – Shawn Pak Hin Tang, Departure to Nowhere, Somewhere

Departure to Nowhere, Somewhere by Shawn Pak Hin Tang takes reference of the common experience of fleeing across the sea to highlight the individualistic nature of human rights. His work broke down a dozen of Chinese names into stokes on marine chart record papers to invite the audience to find their own names with these strokes – a participatory setting that connects the audience with the artwork.


Justice Centre Choice Award

Caption: Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize 2021 Justice Centre Choice Award – Rebecca Hon, Urban Variations No.1

Urban Variations No.1 by Rebecca Hon uses geometricalization to represent the transformation and reconstruction of Hong Kong’s urban and cultural landscapes. Hon explores the creation of a “common consciousness” as an inclusive society under the vision of a common city and a common future, with the community as the carrier.

InkluVision Award

Caption: Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize 2021 InkluVision Award – Jamela Law, A Broken Vessel cannot Hold

A Broken Vessel cannot Hold by Jamela Law is a 3D-print sculpture that references the ‘Hsun-ok’, a ceremonial offering vessel commonly found in Myanmar. The work aims to offer an overview of aggression in pursuit of commonality at the expense of political freedom and tolerance, and act as a reminder that every person deserves a functioning and genuine democratic system and an inclusive, empathetic society which celebrates diversity, not impede it through political, religious, and racial dividers.


Youth Award

Caption: Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize 2021 Youth Award – Trinity Ro, Tears of a Refugee

Tears of a Refugee by Trinity Ro captures the sacrifice and hope of refugees by presenting a mother’s tears as a river on which her family can sail towards a brighter life. The storks and birds in artworks are typical represention of a new life and rebirth, but they are also known as migratory birds that fly between Europe and Africa. The young artist hopes to convey the devotion of a refugee to their family’s wellbeing and a beacon of hope for freedom.


“Congratulations to all the winners of the Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize 2021. The winners this year demonstrated an exceptional ability to reflect upon and communicate some of the most challenging human rights issues facing us today. We applaud their creativity and hope that this year’s prize will continue to facilitate dialogue from across the political spectrum,” says Melanie McLaren, Executive Director, Justice Centre Hong Kong.

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