Mindfulness Practice of Hong Kong Contemporary Visual Artists

  • MAK, Hoi Shan Anson (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Hong Kong artists have lived through an extremely tumultuous and difficult time in 2019, which has shaken both bodies and minds. As a meditation practitioner and artist, I have found the notion and practices of mindfulness extremely useful. Responding to the chaotic outside world with positive and inward reflection has helped me manage complex emotions and work. Some artists experienced the same. In activities offered to help people who are emotionally disturbed in the political movement, I realised quite some artists have been engaging in mindfulness practices, regardless of their religious beliefs. Studying the ways mindfulness is practised by and are meaningful to Hong Kong artists across various fields of contemporary arts is both theoretically important and practically useful.

Mindfulness practice has become very popular over the past 20 years, especially in the fields of psychology and neuroscience. For instance, The Oxford Mindfulness Centre, within the Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, has done extensive research on how mindfulness can help patients with depression and panic disorder. In English language academic publications on contemporary arts, mindfulness practice has been referred to as ‘zen’. The largest exhibition of mindfulness in art in the US resulted in a book entitled, Buddha Mind In Contemporary Art (2004), which was the first to be published on the subject. However, discussion (although significant) on Asian artists has been minimal. In the 15 years since this publication, there has been no major updated research, and worse, there has been no research on Hong Kong artists.

The proposed study is, therefore, important not only because of this academic gap but very little attention has been paid to such scientifically proven effective use of mindfulness. Moreover, the subjects are two-folded, the inside (artists’ emotions and thoughts responding to the outer situations) and the outside (Hong Kong recent cultural and political conditions at issue) which are interdepended and interwoven. Hence, it is also vital to advocate for this useful practice, which can benefit Hong Kong artists, art students and others. Eventually, doing mindful practices benefit the whole well-being of one’s own that goes beyond the art community. The proposed study will rely on audio-visual ethnography, which is more than a methodology for collecting research data. Because mindfulness is an everyday life practice resulting in a blurred boundary between daily routine and artistic practice, it is best demonstrated by ethnography to shows ‘everyday life-ness’ in detail. The power of audio- visual ethnography to bring audiences as close as possible to everyday life activities complements the nature of mindfulness itself. Thus, ethnography is a part of the theoretical framework, going beyond mere research methods.

The expected deliverables are as follows: i) academic journal article; ii) Chinese writing for wide readership iii) a website that presents research data and an ethnographic video depicting actual mindful practices, art-making processes and the artworks of artists. The website will be open for free public access, and will benefit anyone interested in the topic, including researchers and students who may want to conduct further research in this area.
Effective start/end date1/09/2030/06/23


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.