A key figure in Hong Kong’s art scene, Ellen Pau (b. 1961, Hong Kong) raises our awareness of our own physical presence and ignites a contemplation of what it means to be, to exist, here, now, and beyond that, the space each of us occupies. Born in Hong Kong and a graduate from Hong Kong Polytechnic University with a diploma in Diagnostic Radiography in 1982, Pau has worked as a radiographer in Queen Mary Hospital ever since. Pau was plunged into the Hong Kong art scene by her intense interest in video art, new media art, as well as other art forms such as music, poems and performances. Beyond artistic creation, Pau has also been a leader in the promotion, curation and education of art and culture in Hong Kong through founding several important initiatives such as Videotage and the Microwave International New Media Arts Festival.
As one of the earliest pioneering video artists in Hong Kong, Pau produced her first super-8 film Glove in 1984. Her early works first appeared in local screening clubs and then resurfaced on the international arena starting in 1987. After creating a series of single channel video works, Pau then traversed to incorporate sculptural elements and ambient sounds into her video installations during the early 1990s. Pau’s body of work has been a journey into the exploration of possibilities in visual art languages by always sticking closely to the current technological developments at the time. In tandem, a running theme and important motif throughout Pau’s thirty years of practice is her concern with Hong Kong’s political climate, social livelihood and the changes of urban lives.
Besides her profession and artistic practice, Pau has been a key character in the promotion, curation and education of art and culture in Hong Kong. In 1986, she co-founded Videotage, Hong Kong’s oldest video artist collective and earliest archive for media art, with Wong Chi-fai, May Fung and Comyn Mo. In 1996, she founded Microwave International New Media Arts Festival, an annual event that consists of exhibitions, conferences, seminars, and workshops, bringing art experiences to thousands of Hong Kong audiences. In 2014, Pau was appointed by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council as a representative of the Art Form Group in Film and Media Arts, and in the same year, she also served on the interim acquisition committee of M+ in West Kowloon Cultural District.
Ultimately, Pau is a seminal figure in the Hong Kong art scene, weaving a practice that engages as well as pushes the boundaries of technology, while reflecting on society. Moreover, Pau has been a key contributor to society, through her medical activity as well as initiation and leading of cultural activities. As such, through multiple avenues and outlets, Pau prompts an exploration of the self and the times we are living in, ever shifting and evolving.
Pau’s works have been extensively exhibited worldwide in film festivals and art exhibitions, including Hong Kong International Film Festival (1990, 1993, 1997 & 2000), 8th International Film Festival for Women (Spain, 1992), Copenhagen Cultural Capital Foundation, Container 96 (Denmark, 1996), Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (Lisbon, 1996), Johannesburg Biennale (1997), Gwangju Biennial (2002), Liverpool Biennial (2003), Sydney International Film Festival (2004), among others. In 2001, Recycling Cinema, as one of her most significant video installations, was first presented at Hong Kong Pavilion in the 49th Venice Biennale.