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Drawing by numbers: lottery's fine art prize

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 May, 2011, 12:00am

Later this month a lucky member of the public will get the chance to win a piece of art for just HK$20 that may be worth closer to HK$50 million. But this is no get-rich-quick Mark Six-style lottery. It's one artist's mission to universalise art ownership.

The work of art in question is a pencil drawing by Beijing artist Yue Minjun, whose signature images of laughing men have sold for as much as US$6.9 million It has become the 'jackpot' in another work of art by Amy Cheung Wan-man - Chance Machine.

It works in a similar way to the machine that selects the lottery numbers and the draw will take place at the Hong Kong International Art Fair, which runs from May 26 to 29.

Cheung is a conceptual artist from Hong Kong who is fighting against the way art has become a 'commodity with a price that can only be paid by the affluent'. She was delighted when Yue agreed to create a piece especially for her installation Chance Machine as she believes it will bring 'an equality of ownership, allowing everybody to get the chance to own an invaluable piece of art'.

Cheung's Chance Machine came into being last June when she saw received what she refers to as 'my golden ticket', a letter from the Asian Cultural Council, a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting cultural exchanges of the arts between Asia and America.

The letter informed her that she had received the Lee Hysan Foundation Fellowship, a grant to go to America for a year on a cultural exchange programme. She will be a visiting fellow at American art schools and will be provided with accommodation and an artist's studio.

'After opening that letter I felt like I had been given a chance and I wanted to share that feeling with the public and other artists.'

Cheung will by donating all the money earned from ticket sales to a special fund set up by the ACC to send another Hong Kong student for a cultural exchange to America.

Fifteen other art pieces by Cheung and other ACC beneficiaries will also be on offer on the Chance Machine for the smaller price of HK$10.

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