Visual Challenge: The Threshold of Obscenity and Artistry in the Hong Kong Context

  • LAI, Ming Hoi (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


The second round of public consultation on the review of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance (Cap 390) (COIAO) ended in mid-July 2012, debates regarding the obscure mechanism of Obscene Articles Tribunal (OAT) in defining “obscenity” and “indecency” within images, in the context of the image itself, derived publication and display. The status and execution power of OAT have been criticised of censoring renowned Western artworks, mostly nude paintings and sculptures. The Principal Investigator (PI) observes the tension between legal definition, and nudity and eroticism as a common genre in the visual arts, albeit its contexts and significance differ.

Such tension is not caused solely by legislation but the confronted conservatism towards the perception of human bodies versus those look to revisit and expand such perception. Indeed the classification made by OAT fail to convince certain sector within the local community, while it prompts closer to the problem of existent conservatism across the secondary and tertiary art curriculum, as well as a more interactive platform of the value of nude and/or erotic art. A more focused discussion, and hence research is needed in collecting views and reflection from the local cultural and art circle on the various threshold and development of nude and/or erotic in the Hong Kong context, so as to enable a bottom-up platform for the art practitioners and the public to access and respond to more concrete examples.

The proposed project works to fill in the gap of the online database from OAT, it is and would be for administrative record as it would “only record the classification results, the cross-reference number and the description of the articles” and the PI reckons it would cause further confusion, and that is in which an “unofficial” database built by academic(s) and art practitioners should come into place.
Effective start/end date1/12/1331/05/16


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