At Hong Kong’s new M+ museum, which is opening to the public on November 12, visitors can not only marvel at sculptures, drawings and paintings—they can also watch clips by legendary local film directors such as Wong Kar-wai, Ann Hui and Johnnie To.
M+ has enshrined moving images—a category that encompasses films, documentaries, GIFs, animations and more—as one of its core focuses, alongside visual art, architecture and design.
Below, Silke Schmickl, lead curator of moving image at M+, explains why it is so important that moving images are shown in the context of the museum, discusses Hong Kong’s rich cinematic history and reveals why the M+ building, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, is "a dream for any curator".
To people who may be unfamiliar with the term, can you please explain in brief what “moving image” means and what works the category encompasses?
The term “moving image” can be understood in a literal sense—every image that moves is of interest to us as a manifestation of visual culture, from high art to popular culture, from early celluloid films shot on 35mm, 16mm or 8mm to analogue and digital video tapes and the pixels of the latest digital technology. While the moving image holdings of the M+ Collection are naturally focused on artist films, video art, experimental cinema, animation, interactive media art, we also have a great interest in documentaries, essay films, feature-length classics, music videos, advertising clips, GIFs and other hybrid genres that express the culture of a certain place at a given time.
The number of moving images produced every day is huge and their massive circulation on the world wide web is unprecedented. Due to this explosion of content through new digital production and distribution modi, it becomes harder for any institution to cohesively write the history of, let’s say, video art or experimental cinema. M+’s position to use a broader term that is not limited to a particular format or genre is forward looking and acknowledges this new reality. It also allows us to keep our research in tune with the rapid development of the audio-visual sector and artists’ critical role in the reflection on and usage of the new creative possibilities offered by the medium.