Hope & Memory
Oct 5, 2019
HK mvmt's art & methods hark back to resistances & revolutions through history. It's a recognition that HKers' fight is part of sth bigger- that we're just the latest custodian of hope in the long struggle for freedom.
Our art borrowed from images of resistance thru history even as most HKers were still skittish about what we meant by ‘revolution’. Looking back on our art, it'd seem our hearts hv been screaming for a new world long before our brains wld admit the old one was already gone.
This is 'Jeanne d’Arc au sacre du roi Charles VII' by Ingres; she's famous for turning the tide for FR in 100 Yrs War w/ EN. In the painting she watches her king crowned in Reims after freeing it; in our art, she's masked and holds our banner, ready for the liberation of HK.
This is 'Pulling down the statue of King George III in NY’ by Walcutt. In 1776, NYers tore down the statue of KGIII after a public reading of the Declaration of Independence. In our art, the symbol of imperialism is replaced by 'smart' lamppost that facilitates surveillance.
Delacroix's 'La Liberté guidant le peuple' celebrates the 1830 July revolution & has one of the best-known versions of the Marianne. In our homages she's replaced by frontliners, weapons becomeUmbrellas & the Phrygian cap become hard hats. Revolution, but w/ HK characteristics.
These are based on Manet's 'The Execution of Emperor Maximilian', which pays homage to Goya's 'The Third of May 1808’. The latter is abt ES resistance to FR occupation in early 19th c. In our art, HKPF takes place of firing squad, as the press bears witness in horror.
It didn't start that way. Back in Jun HKers' main concerns were relatively local - it was abt withdrawing ELAB, here & now. Obviously, recent history of Umbrella Mvmt informed strategies & gear, but it's debatable how many saw the latest mvmt as part of a larger battle then.
But after step-up in police brutality, sth changed in Aug. Pamphlets appeared comparing HKer's struggles to Beijing students' defiance in 1989. It's an awakening - the realisation that we're just the latest to be handed this baton of hope, that maybe, we're making history.
From that pt, we leaned in to revolutionary art & methods. HKers' human chains - which hv become a recurring sight - are inspired by the Baltic Way, when 2mln ppl of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined hands to demonstrate for independence from the Soviet Union in 1989.
Our nightly roars of the mvmt’s slogans of ‘Liberate HK! Revolution of Our Times!’ etc from our homes are inspired by cacerolazo in Chile in the 70s, Argentina in early ‘00s & most recently in Puerto Rico, when ppl literally made a racket abt injustice, corrupt govts, etc.
We understand being on the right side of history doesn't mean we'll win; so few episodes in history we draw inspiration from ended happily. And yet we're still inspired! Revolutionary art has stood the tests of time bcos they speak to the hope for freedom in all of us.
From the American Revolution to the French, the civil rights mvmt, 1989, the cacerolazo, Ukraine... we remember these histories bcos they remind us the struggle for human rights & dignity is universal & that HKers' fight right now is just part of sth much bigger.
Wld you hv stood w/ those in history who fought for democracy, who sought freedom from oppression?
That's the wrong question.
The real question is, will you stand with us now? Not just HKers, but all who fight injustices, fascism, racism... History has its eyes on us.