Hung Keung’s Dao Gives Birth to One (2009–2012) as a postcolonial critique of modernist art history


  • Sarah Sandfort Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology



The following paper discusses the Chinese art exhibition concept Yellow Box as a critical alternative to the internationally dominant modes of art museum and gallery display known as White Cube and Black Box. The artwork Dao Gives Birth to One (道 生 一, Dàoshēng yī) (2009–2012) of Hong Kong based artist Hung Keung serves as example for contemporary Chinese art in Hong Kong and for the attempt of the alternative exhibition mode. Besides an analysis of the artwork and its themes of Chinese traditions like calligraphy as art form and Daoism as philosophy, the important background is the cultural sphere of Hong Kong. As artist Hung struggles with different cultural influences and concepts like modernity, East and West, Chineseness and Hong Kongness. With his works he wants to break colonial dichotomies and to open up the exhibition room for an art experience in which the audience could develop its own (cultural) positions—the Yellow Box concept shall support this approach. But is the Yellow Box a suitable tool for an open cultural exchange—or means it on the contrary new cultural shaped restrictions and limitations?