The UCI Center for Asian Studies,  Department of Asian American Studies and Department of Art History

"Narratives of Trauma: Vietnamese Art in the Hong Kong Detention Camps"
Presentation by Prof. Sophia Law, Lingnan University, Hong Kong

Wednesday, October 13, 2010
12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
Langson Library, Room 570

Art, as a kind of visual language, can communicate what language is unsuited to express. In the late 1980s, as many as 50,000 Vietnamese boat people were being held in detention camps in Hong Kong. These people lived in a bleak, prison-like environment with little sense of hope, bearing various fears and tragic memories. Their psychological and physical sufferings were so complex that they were utterly indescribable. Between 1989 and 1991, a three-year art project called Art in the Camps, funded by the United Nations, was conducted in these detention camps, providing a platform for the inmates to liberate their inner feelings. Over 800 pieces of art were collected. Using selected images from this collection, the presentation scrutinizes the expressive and communicative power of art as narratives of intense emotions.
Prof. Sophia Law is an art historian and currently teaching at the Dept. of Visual Studies at Lingnan University.  Her talk, which she'll illustrate with images of artwork made by the Vietnamese boat people detained in the Hong Kong camps, reflects her research in the therapeutic nature of art.

After the talk and Q&A, everyone is also invited to view original paintings in the UCI Libraries Special Collections & Archives made by Southeast Asian refugees detained in similar camps after the end of the Vietnam War. 

For more information, contact Christina Woo, Research Librarian for the Southeast Asian Archive,, 824-4974.
To read more about Prof. Law's research, see her paper, "Art in Adversity":

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