What it might mean to live as peers of contemporary art

a personal reflection on nostalgia's demand from Hong Kong





Hong Kong contemporary art, nostalgia, vernacular, transition in Chinese thought, peer activism


The population of Hong Kong has been significantly affected by outward migration since the mass pro-democracy movement in 2019. To make sense of nostalgia as a prominent sentiment around the phenomenon, I examine the work of artist and curator duo C&G Artpartment among those who had left. While I long for a Hong Kong with C&G being around, I find inspiration in their lexicon to rethink nostalgia.  C&G practices a peer activism committed to both local vernacular and global art talk. While nostalgia that is positive or negative is powered by colonizer and dominator narratives, my nostalgia for them, and for what their departure means for contemporary art in Hong Kong, is neither. It instead carries a pedagogical function. Their peer activism stays relevant in the long-run for admitting transition as an essential preparation for change.


Agamben, Giorgio. Nymphs. Translated by Kevin McLaughline and Amanda Minervini. Greenford, UK: Seagull Books, 2013.

Boym, Svetlana. The Future of Nostalgia. New York: Basic Books, 2001.

C&G. 2023. Accessed 15 April, 2023. https://www.candg-artpartment.com/about_c_g.html

C&G Artpartment. C&G Artpartment 2007-2008, C&G Artpartment: Hong Kong, 2009.

Chan, Holmes. “Explainer: Hong Kong’s give demands – withdrawal of the extradition bill”. Hong Kong Free Press. 23 December, 2019. Accessed 30 May, 2023. https://hongkongfp.com/2019/12/23/explainer-hong-kongs-five-demands-withdrawal-extradition-bill/

Centre for Heritage, Art and Textiles (CHAT). 2023. Accessed 29 May, 2023. https://www.mill6chat.org/event/clouds-power-and-ornament-roving-central-asia/

Choi, Grace and Cho Wai Lam. “Hong Kong national security law: What is it and is it worrying?” BBC News. 28 June, 2022. Accessed 4 June, 2023. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-52765838

Chow, Rey. Writing Diaspora: tactics of intervention in contemporary cultural studies. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.

Creery, Jennifer and Tom Grundy. “Almost 2 million attended anti-extradition law demo, say organisers, as protesters bed in around gov’t HQ.” Hong Kong Free Press. 17 June, 2019. Accessed 31 May, 2023. https://hongkongfp.com/2019/06/17/almost-2-million-attended-anti-extradition-law-demo-say-organisers-protesters-bed-around-govt-hq/

De Boever, Arne. Against Aesthetic Exceptionalism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019.

Derrida, Jacques. The Work of Mourning. Edited and translated by Pascale-Anne Brault. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.

Edwards, Steve. Martha Rosler: The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems. London: Afterall Books, 2012.

Greene, Maxine. Variations on a Blue Guitar. New York and London: Teachers College Press, Columbia University, 2001.

Gunia, Amy. “A brief history of protest in post-handover Hong Kong.” TIME. 20 June 2019. Accessed 4 June, 2023. https://time.com/5606212/hong-kong-history-mass-demonstrations-protest/

HKSAR Government. “Year-end population falls.” HKSAR Government News. 16 February, 2002. Accessed 15 April, 2023. https://www.news.gov.hk/eng/2023/02/20230216/20230216_165758_571.html

HKSAR Government. “"Hello Hong Kong. Campaign launched to promote Hong Kong around the world.” HKSAR Government Press Release. 2 February, 2023. Accessed 4 June, 2023. https://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202302/02/P2023020200675.htm

Hong Kong Free Press. “Hong Kong park empty for the first time in 32 years as police surround venue to prevent banned Tiananmen Massacre vigil.” Hong Kong Free Press. 4 June, 2021. Accessed 4 June, 2023. https://hongkongfp.com/2021/06/04/breaking-hong-kong-park-empty-for-the-first-time-in-32-years-as-police-surround-venue-for-tiananmen-massacre-vigil/

Kinna, Ruth. The Government of No One: the theory and practice of anarchism. UK: Pelican, 2019.

Jullien, Francois. The Silent Transformations. Greenford, UK: Seagull Books, 2011.

Li, Almond. “Over 113,000 residents left city in 12 months, as Hong Kong sees largest mi-year population drop on record.” Hong Kong Free Press. 12 August, 2022. Accessed 22 May , 2023. https://hongkongfp.com/2022/08/12/over-113000-residents-left-city-in-12-months-as-hong-kong-sees-largest-mid-year-population-drop-on-record/

Li, Lea. “Hong Kong opposition district councillors say farewell to constituents after mass resignation.” South China Morning Post. 8 August, 2022. Accessed 31 May, 2023. https://www.scmp.com/video/hong-kong/3143770/hong-kong-opposition-district-councillors-say-farewell-constituents-after

Smith, Laurajane. “Intangible Heritage: a challenge to the authorised heritage discourse.” Ethnologia 40 (2015): 133-42. Accessed 4 June, 2023. https://www.academia.edu/34518290/Intangible_Heritage_A_challenge_to_the_authorised_heritage_discourse

Stack, Carol. Call to Home: African-Americans reclaim the rural south. London: Basic Books, 1996.

Stewart, Susan. On Longing: narratives of the miniature, the gigantic, the souvenir, the collection. North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1993.

Tung, Chee Hwa. Chief Executive of HKSAR Government policy address. 1998. Accessed 15 April, 2023. https://www.policyaddress.gov.hk/pa98/english/econ2.htm

Wei, Peh T’i. “Why is Hong Kong called ‘Fragrant Harbour’: a synthesis.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch 54 (2014): 33-57. JSTOR. Accessed 29 May 2023. http://www.jstor.org/stable/jroyaaisasocihkb.54.33

West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD). n.d. Accessed 15 April, 2023. https://www.mplus.org.hk/en/the-building/west-kowloon-cultural-district/






Creative criticism