Disappearing Miss Hong Kong

The video piece "Disappearing Miss Hong Kong" explores the production process of the artist's previous work titled "Miss Perpetual: Form Piece" in 2017. "Miss Perpetual: Form Piece" is a collection of application forms from the Miss Hong Kong pageant over the past decades, serving as a reflection of the evolving cultural ideals of femininity in Hong Kong. By revisiting archival materials and documents from the old piece, the artist offers insights into the motivations behind the piece and reflects on her childhood fascination with the Miss Hong Kong pageant when she first moved to Hong Kong.

JVC TV, Podium

Exhibition: Leaky Vessels, QB Gallery, Oslo
Photo taken by Tor Simen Ulstein

Film. HD, colour, sound 5.1, 4:3, 5 min. 22 sec
In 2017,
I was invited to create a commissioned work
for an exhibition in a Hong Kong art space, Para-site.
I made the decision to
delve into a forgotten childhood dream:
becoming Miss Hong Kong.

In my artwork  "Miss Perpetual: Form Piece ,"
I tried to understand
who could become Miss Hong Kong
and whether the application forms over the years
revealed a profile of Hong Kong femi-ni-ni-ty.

Years ago,
there was a saying circulating
about the Miss Hong Kong pageant:
“The champion is chosen as a wife,
the first runner-up as a girlfriend,
and the second runner-up as a little sister,"
the contestants of the era
reflecting Hong Kong's fantasies
and desires towards women.

The Miss Hong Kong pageant began in 1946,
with purely fun ideals.
The competition is inclusive,
allowing ages from 16 to 60,
and requires participants to bring their own swimsuits.
In its first year,
only 11 participants took part,
many of whom were dancers and sex workers.

In 1973,
TVB the Hong Kong television company
took over the hosting rights of the pageant,
bringing significant changes of scale.
With the growing popularity of color television,
it became one of their most eagerly anticipated programs.

At that time, the slogan for Miss Hong Kong was
"Coexistence of beauty and wisdom".
However, in the 2000s,
the Hong Kong entertainment industry
faced a financial crisis.
This led to a lowered threshold
for the pageant standards which,
along with the influence of TVB's political stance,
gradually diminished the appeal of the pageant viewers.

From 1996 to 2017,
I obtained 10 Miss Hong Kong application forms
from various libraries and research centers in Hong Kong,
coinciding with the time when
the pageant was no longer popular.
Through the covers and forms,
I began to perceive
the organizers' and their audience's fantasies
about a certain type of young woman,
and how one woman
would become the representative figure
in Hong Kong’s cultural imagery for that year.

I remember the first time
my family and I watched
the Miss Hong Kong pageant together,
discussing who our favorite contestants were
and predicting the winner.
I remember the looks of admiration
in the eyes of my parents
and two older brothers,
who appreciated the confidence
of those female participants.
The next day,
I told them that when I turned 18,
I would become Miss Hong Kong.

I did not fulfill that dream.

In 2017,
I made the decision
to fill out my own application form for the pageant
and enlisted a board member from Para-site
where my work was exhibited,
to serve as my reference.
I submitted my application to TVB Limited.

After a month had passed,
an email arrived,
inviting me to participate in the initial interview.
They requested that I bring a three-piece swimsuit
and high-heeled shoes.

I did not attend the interview.

The next year,
I received an interview invitation
from Hong Kong's Ming's magazine.
They were keen to understand
the motivations behind my artwork.
At the same time,
the open call for Miss Hong Kong 2018
was taking place
and I decided to give it another try.
I reached out to a professor from my university,
hoping that he would serve as my reference.

Again a month passed,
and I received an email from TVB Limited,
once again inviting me to participate in the initial interview.
They requested that I bring a three-piece swimsuit
and high-heeled shoes.

Yet again, I did not attend the interview.