Friday, January 1, 2010

The New Face of Social Protest In Hong Kong

This is one of a series of photos shared via Twitter from demonstrations in Hong Kong on January 1, 2010. The images were aggregated with the term #0101hk.

The first image that caught my eye was a face marked with Chinese characters:

"Oppose Dictatorship"
Face painted with Chinese characters in January, 2010, Hong Kong protests

(Sourced from: “#iranelection #CN4Iran #0101hk A protester displays writing on his forehead reading "Oppose the dictators" in su” - @Glossology)

Compare to the artworks of the contemporary Chinese artist at Zhang Huan :

From Series 1/2, 1998
Zhang Huan

According to the Wikipedia on Zhang Huan, "Zhang’s performances always involve his body in one way or another, usually naked, occasionally involving masochistic actions. For example, an exhibited photography showed him as "a naked man, his head half-shaved, sitting in a prisonlike space. His skin was wet and covered with flies. His face looked blank but tough, as if he were trying to meditate his way through pain."

People in China (including Hong Kong) are combining two very powerful forms of protest: putting their bodies on the line, and injecting the most precious thing in their culture: Chinese characters / the written word.

More images and resources

1/1/10 images from Hong Kong discussed in Scarry Thoughts

Syllabus on the topic of Body and Face in Chinese visual culture

Full set of images from 01/01/10 in Hong Kong 

Related posts

"There's one thing you don't understand," he said. "What you are calling 'the best and the brightest,' the leaders in China call 'troublemakers.; A hundred thousand Ph.D.'s stay behind in the U.S.? Two hundred thousand? A million? Fine! Let them! There's more where that came from! China's got nothing if not people!"

(See Why Beijing Always "Wins")

Despite the difficulties associated with engaging in effective solidarity with dissidents in China, it is important to make the effort. A fundamental tenet of all peace and justice activism is that if we have the power to speak we can do anything, and if "they" succeed in shutting us up, it's the beginning of the end.

(See What is the US Peace and Justice Movement Doing for Dissidents in China?)

"He had set his features into the expression of quiet optimism which it was advisable to wear when facing the telescreen." 1984 foreshadows a time when everyone is constantly on their guard, lest something they say or do divulge their unacceptable political thoughts. And, in fact, today the notion that we have any privacy -- and that we have the right to remain silent -- is rapidly becoming an object of nostalgia.

(See Facecrime in America )