Joint Statement: in response to the Times Square's request for correction of art criticism in Ming Pao
6th June 2008
Members of the International Association of Art Critics Hong Kong (AICAHK), C for Culture and Inmedia (Hong Kong)are deeply disturbed by the recent incident in which the management office of Times Square filed a complaint to the senior management office of Ming Pao against art critic Mr. Luke Ching, claiming that his article concerning the exhibition of the Chinese artist Yue Min Jun held at Times Square, was “inappropriate” inasmuch as he “related it to the June 4th incident”*.
Any society that respects freedom of expression allows and accommodates differences in perception and interpretation. In Hong Kong we greatly treasure this freedom. Writing about an artwork or exhibition and commenting on the context of its production or reception is a common practice and an important means of understanding the meaning and significance of artworks for a society. The political dimension should be one amongst the different aspects that help foster a lively discussion of the arts and should therefore be welcomed. Even if some members of society disagree with a particular interpretation, we cannot see why this kind of discussion should not take place or be considered “inappropriate.”
When readers of publications disagree with a critic, it is common practice to write a reply; good newspapers that value public debate should be open to printing diverse arguments. However, the management office of Times Square made its complaint directly to the senior officers of Ming Pao, asking that the paper “correct” Mr. Ching’s analysis. We view this as highly inappropriate, as it appears that Times Square was asking Ming Pao to curtail and suppress freedom of criticism where they disagreed (and quite possibly out of exaggerated concern for their own public relations or commercial interests).
Freedom of cultural criticism is one of the foundations of cultural understanding and development, and the exclusion of the political aspect in it can only led to an unhealthy arts ecology, with adverse effect upon our culture and society.
We request the management office of Times Square to reconsider their position and to welcome a wide and diverse public discussion of the art that they have brought to the public. We applaud Ming Pao for enabling and encouraging an unfettered and open dialogue about art.
International Association of Art Critics Hong Kong (AICAHK)**
C for Culture
Inmedia (Hong Kong)
Luke Ching, “19 years after. The Square,” Ming Pao, 1st June, 2008, "Sunday special section", pp. 4-5. (in Chinese)(Re-posted on the Inmedia: http://www.inmediahk.net/node/1000156)
* The quotation from the letter (originally in Chinese) is quoted by the editor of Mingpao, 6th June, 2008, p. A11 ; and inmedia, appearing also in http://www.inmediahk.net/node/1000156 .
**The International Association of Art Critics (AICA), is a NGO, founded in 1950 under the patronage of UNESCO. (http://www.aica-int.org)