By Yau Ching
This booklet stories the paintings of filmmaker Tang Shu Shuen in Hong Kong within the Nineteen Sixties and Seventies. It increases concerns concerning the applicability of paradigms of Western auteurism and feminist authorship in learning Tang's paintings and in addition examines the explanations why Tang Shu Shuen's paintings has been so underrecognised and underdiscussed historically.
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Extra resources for Filming Margins: Tang Shu Shuen, A Forgotten Hong Kong Woman Director
According to Williams (1977, 1980), in order for the dominant culture to remain effective, in many cases part of the residual culture needs to get incorporated into the dominant culture. The dominant culture also remains ready to incorporate 'emergent' culture in as early a stage as possible, because it is in the emergent culture that new meanings and values, new practices, new significance and experiences are being created. Hong Kong colonial policies in the late 1960s to 1970s, partly responding to the youth and labour movements of 1966 and 1967, strategically seek to incorporate many emergent youth cultural formations, resulting in institutionalising a series of trade shows, beauty pageants, concerts, dance balls, 'Youth Summer Activities Programs', 44 Filming Margins and the founding of'City Hall' and civic centres, and later international film festivals.
It is in such a context, where Tang Shu Shuen's cultural identity has been problematised by her experience of a series of border-crossings to start with (Hong Kong-Taiwan-US-Hong Kong), that she sought to reconstruct and explore an imaginary (Chinese) tradition through representation in her first film. I would argue that this selective tradition was also an interrogation of her own identity, not only in relation to ethnicity but also to gender. As a stranger returning to a place she knew as a child but has since long lost, Tang chose to map her first feature on a remote and lost Chinese society, from a piece of legendary history allegedly set in a village of southwest China in the Ming Dynasty.
Tang: I have only made one film (The Arch), but I believe my second film is bound to have things that could be compared with the first, because my work is a part of me, and these two films are entirely my creation; of course there are similar traces. Q: The typical 'auteurs' we just mentioned, some of their subject matters are very limited, for example, some only focus on religious topics... T: I am afraid I won't limit myself to a small area (Lin 1972, 161) 24 Filming Margins While Tang chose to discuss her work in an auteurist light in control and vision, she also highlighted the limits of auteurism when it comes to suggesting repetitive subjects or themes.