A video artwork entitled “Green Walls” by Terence Li has won the 2021 Hong Kong Human Rights Arts Prize, an event hosted by the Justice Centre and the European Union Office to Hong Kong and Macau.
Terence Li, proclaimed winner on June 8, submitted an 11-minute video set in a small flat with green walls. It features a young Sri Lankan girl whose asylum claim was repeatedly denied by the Hong Kong government reciting a poem entitled “Seasons of Trees.”
Li is a US filmmaker, video artist and art critic now based in Berlin, according to his online profile. He was born in San Francisco but graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
“The selected works are by artists that come from diverse ethnic backgrounds, including refugees, with their own unique experiences with human rights issues, ready to share their stories with the world under this year’s theme of ‘Shared Future’,” said a statement from the Justice Centre.
Li’s work stood out from 93 submissions by established and emerging artists, of which an international panel of judges shortlisted 33. The judging was conducted blind as part of the event’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
The works cover a diverse range of mediums and topics, including the treatment of minorities in Hong Kong, the global refugee crisis, mental health and LGBTQI+ rights.
Melanie McLaren, executive director of the Justice Centre Hong Kong, said powerful art has always emerged from difficult times, meaning that art and human rights have a long shared history.
“Day to day, we work with refugees and survivors of torture, human trafficking and forced labour, and we hope that the art through this year’s shortlist continues to spark discussion around these issues, and other injustices,” McLaren said.
The winning and shortlisted artworks will be exhibited at the Goethe-Institut until June 30. All exhibited works will be made available for purchase via auction on June 24, with 80 per cent of the proceeds given to support the prize’s operation and the Justice Centre. Other works can be purchased via an online auction later.
Correction 30/7: Terence Li’s art piece is titled “Green Walls,” not “Green Screen,” as previously stated.