Art in the Camp: Art by Vietnamese Refugees in Hong Kong Detention Camps – Interview with Evelyna Liang
In 1988, Hong Kong-based artist Evelyna Liang developed “Art in the Camp,” a project supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Liang and her team provided the men, women and children who had fled Vietnam by boat, also known as the “boat people,” with art-making materials in the refugee detention camps in Hong Kong, encouraging the refugees to express their personal experiences of escaping persecution in Vietnam, the traumatic journey of crossing the South China Sea by the Vietnamese-style fishing boat sampan, and facing incarceration upon arriving in the “free land” of Hong Kong. From these tragedies emerged artwork representing powerful themes of the Vietnamese diaspora, nostalgia, and longing for freedom (Tự Do). A selection of these works is currently on view in our exhibition Vietnam in Transition, 1976–Present, on loan from Special Collections of the Chinese University in Hong Kong Library.
The Wende’s Exhibition Coordinator Emma Diffley will interview Liang about her project and about the importance for the refugees to be able to express themselves artistically, reflecting on their past and present traumas and hopes. Evelyna Liang is an artist focused on underprivileged communities, using art as a tool to make society more inclusive and harmonious. She has worked with hospitals, children of migrants, and survivors of the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake in China.