Home » News » [M+ Opening Countdown]Public funds involved in the purchase of collections have caused controversy three times in ten years | Position Topics | Position News

[M+ Opening Countdown]Public funds involved in the purchase of collections have caused controversy three times in ten years | Position Topics | Position News

Editor’s note: In response to the opening of the M+ Visual Culture Museum in the West Kowloon Cultural District, a special feature report of “Stance News” is discussed.Series of articlesPlease click here

Since 2010, the M+ Museum of Visual Culture has established the administrative director, and the software development team has continued. M+ was approved to purchase collections of 1.7 billion yuan, and set up a “collection committee” to approve each collection with a value of less than 5 million, and the excess amount was submitted to the Museum Committee and the Board of Directors of the Authority. As of June 2021, M+ has purchased nearly 8,000 items, covering the four major areas of design and architecture, visual arts, mobile images, and Hong Kong’s visual culture. The purchase procedure involves the use of public funds, which naturally arouses public attention. In the past ten years, disputes broke out on M+’s purchase decision three times, and it was questioned whether public resources were used properly and whether the method of purchase was appropriate.

2012: Sigg Collection “Half Donation, Half Sale”

In 2012, M+ announced that it had acquired 1,510 Chinese contemporary artworks from Swiss collector Uli Sigg, including: Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s “Perspective Study: Tiananmen Square” and Liu Xiangcheng’s photography on June 4th. Among them, 1,463 items were donated to West Kowloon, while the remaining 47 items were purchased at a cost of RMB 177 million. M+ also promised to set up a special hall to display this series of collections, which will be opened simultaneously at the opening.

In 2012, West Kowloon and Uli Sigg signed a deal

This “half donation, half sale” form has been questioned.artistLiu Jianhua once wrote thatAs a private collector, Sigg transferred to M+ through “half donation and half sale”, thereby increasing his personal reputation and the value of other collections. He also believes that the positioning of M+ is based in Hong Kong, “it is not necessary (with public money) to purchase a collection to reflect representative Chinese contemporary art.”

In recent months, the Sigg Collection has once again become the focus. This series of collections has been attacked by the establishment and party media for days since March this year, accused of violations of national security laws and “bad consciousness.” The New Democrat Party Rong Haien even said that the works in the museum should “promote positive energy and the expression of aesthetic insight.” The controversy lasted for more than a month, and Sigg finally responded, emphasizing that “it must be more open than traditional art.” “If you lack this open mind, it will be difficult for you to appreciate contemporary art.”

2014: Buying a sushi bar for 15 million

Year 2014,Oriental Press Group reported that M+ spent 15 million, Purchased the kiyotomo sushi bar in Tokyo from the famous Japanese designer Shiro Kuramata (Shiro Kuramata). Since most museums around the world do not disclose the price of a single collection, M+ also has similar guidelines, so there has been no response to the bid, only confirming that the sushi bar has been included in the collection.

From interior decoration to furnishings, the sushi bar is fully packaged. Shan Zhongkai, a member of the Museum Committee at the time of West Kowloon’s board of directors, questioned “How do you want to buy back the old? How do you spread the purchase? How much is the maintenance fee for the first day?” He Qingji, then the director of the Chinese University’s Master of Cultural Management program, also questioned the museum at the time. Most of the works are purchased in the form of “parts”, and they rarely “buy it as a sushi bar”, worrying that they may “not be able to get together with other exhibits.”

Tokyo Kiyomo Sushi Bar will be unveiled in the opening exhibition.

2018: “Buyout” Works by Zhang Yinghai Heavy Industries

In 2018, M+ announced the inclusion of all the works of the digital art duo “Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries” (YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES) into its collection. “Jang Younghae Heavy Industries” was founded in 1999 by Korean artist Zhang Younghae and American artist Marc Voge, criticizing consumerism and Internet culture with text and images.

The inclusion of “all works” in the collection means that all the works of the art group “existing and future” are collected in one museum, which is the same as a “buyout.”He Qingji, Visiting Associate Professor, Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, CUHKFeeling “ridiculous” about the approach of undertaking “future” works, Worried about the decline in the level of future works, which will affect the reputation and quality of M+.

The works of “Zhang Yinghai Heavy Industries” will also appear in the opening exhibition.

Author/Li Jiayi
Editor/Yang Tianshuai

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