17.2 C

Art with ‘secret political message’ censored in Hong Kong



The artist says that his work had to be censored so that it could become complete

The owners of a Hong Kong department store have removed digital artwork from the facade of the building that included hidden references to arrested freedom of speech advocates. The incident is just another indicator of the erosion of freedoms, warns artist Patrick Amadon.

Digital artwork Well Rioters (No rioters), work Patrick Amadonwere posted on the facade of the Sogo Causeway Bay department store as part of the promotion of Hong Kong as a cultural center: this week, after several years of pandemic restrictions, Hong Kong began Art Basel Hong Kongone of the most important art fairs in Asia.

So far, it has not been confirmed whether the Chinese authorities directly ordered or influenced the removal of Amadon’s work. A few days ago, we reported that a horror movie was pulled from cinemas in Hong Kong Pooh Bear – most likely because the Puja character is often used as a cheeky caricature of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The former British colony of Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, and Beijing announced at the time that it would preserve the freedoms people enjoyed in the area. But “democracy protests” were quelled in 2019 by China’s adoption of a new “national security” law that criminalizes most forms of political protest. Since then, the city authorities have arrested and imprisoned a large number of protesters and activists.

A new realityAmadon, who, in his own words, “closely followed” the protests in Hong Kong, wanted to express solidarity with the protesters with the work No Rioters, and warn the public about the “new reality” of life in this city. “I just couldn’t watch Hong Kong Art Week and pretend that the Chinese authorities didn’t crush democracy and turn the city into a controlled vassal state… And that’s because it’s a convenient location for commerce,” commented the artist who lives and works in Los Angeles.

Surprised it took so longHe expected his work to prove controversial – in fact, he’s surprised it was on public display for days. Part of the artwork is also a surveillance camera that scans the surroundings. The artwork also flashes text listing the names and length of prison terms of activists and leading figures of the democracy movement. Both lawyers are mentioned Benny Tai as well as the leader of the student movement Joshua Wong; both were accused of subversive activities.

All these details flash on the artwork too quickly for the viewer to see them with the naked eye, but if you photograph the artwork, you can of course make out the detail you captured. The work is related to the journalist and activist Gwyneth Howhich was attacked while live-streaming the crackdown on protests in July 2019.

Even the title of the work is borrowed from the slogan of the protests in 2019:

So who is behind the censorship?The Innovation gallery, which organized the exhibition, does not know whether its withdrawal was requested by the Chinese government, its director confirmed Francesca Boffetti. “Our broker told us that the owners of Sogo are concerned about the sensitive political content hidden in Patrick’s work, so they have decided to pull the work immediately.” No one cited any law that the work would violate, or threatened the gallery with punishment – but the legal department of the Sogo department store asked the gallery if they were aware of the content and message of the artwork.

Neither Hong Kong police nor Sogo Department Store have yet responded to media requests for comment. Amadon said only that he understood from the phone call with the gallery that they were very concerned about possible legal consequences. he also told protal Art Daily that he did not tell the gallery about the hidden messages before the opening of the exhibition: “I didn’t want to put the onus on them to participate.”

There is no place for politically engaged artSince the adoption of the new law, the media and art institutions in Hong Kong have been very afraid of crossing the not so clearly defined boundaries. Some time ago, for example, the authorities arrested the editors and owners of a pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily; they were accused of conspiring with foreign powers, and the paper was shut down. Many artists who create in the field of politically engaged art have either left Hong Kong or at least no longer exhibit there.

“No Rioters is only now a rounded piece of art”The authorities insist that no one deprives Hong Kongers of their promised freedoms – but Amadon warns that what happened to his exhibition most vividly shows how far freedom of speech and artistic freedom have already been eroded in Hong Kong. “This was an objective indicator that they no longer exist in the same form as before. But from the point of view of the completed narrative, it was necessary for the work to be censored and withdrawn – only now is it a rounded work of art.”

Source: Rtvslo

Subscribe to our magazine


━ more like this

Pope Francis will be operated on in the afternoon

A little over two months ago, he was hospitalized for bronchitisAfter Pope Francis was taken to the hospital for a medical examination on Tuesday...

The Bank of Slovenia relaxed the required conditions for obtaining a loan

The new lower credit limit will be based on minimum living expensesIn July, the Bank of Slovenia will adjust the measure limiting consumer lending....

The work of photojournalist Borut Živulović, who boasts a strong sense of aesthetic values

Photojournalist Borut Živulović presents his first solo exhibition Photos at the Lek gallery, which presents a selection of works dedicated to current topics that...

After a good month, the French are disappointed at a new rally against the pension reform

Security was ensured by 11,000 police officers, of which 4,000 were in ParisA good month after the last rally against the pension reform, on...

A new guest will now sit behind the counter from the Na zdravje series for over 600 thousand

They also sold the entire scene of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny CarsonCan you imagine having your own private bar at home? And...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here