A series of posters arranged neatly lining the underpass wall in a quiet corner of Sha Tin housing. “Release the shipments to China, release the ones taken,” read each replica, attach with the main colors attempted and release with pictures of sticks beaten by others wearing police caps.
A poster from the political group Demosistō, posted on Facebook on May 7, shows a picture of Lam combined with a fitted tiger, holding a cable in his jaw – a reference to the extradition law sought. Underneath it is written: “Say NO to a totalitarian court … Attract Changes In Changes Extradition … Oppose shipping to China.”
Ivan Lam, the leader of the demosisto who discussed the poster, said that he wanted to discuss the dangers of drafting the law: “The graphic was inspired by the safety of the Cantonese ‘送 羊入虎口‘ (sung by joeng jap fu hau), which allows it to be turned into a goat, or putting someone in extreme danger,” he said. “I use that picture as a metaphor [for] China’s extradition law, which protects the safety and freedom of Hong Kong citizens.”
Meanwhile, the Civil Rights Front, which has gathered several anti-extradition protests, came out with posters to invite people to the streets on June 9.
The poster design draws a comic book, only between the lines that there are bad premonition images of Chinese courts, with 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy activist Li Wang-yang in the upper left hand corner, found in 2012 in what was considered an activist who committed fake suicide.
Under the picture it reads: “Defend Hong Kong,” “Withdraw the crime law,” and “Carrie Lam resign.”
Carlos Hung Chun-ngai, who discussed the poster, said that he wanted to discuss the injustice of the Chinese legal system: “What is represented by the images related to the anti-extradition movement. Xi Jinping,” he said.
Hung also said he chose red because it was often used to symbolize the Chinese Communist Party in propaganda.
There is also Kay Wong, an artist who has been drawing since he could hold a pencil, who has now moved to social media to express her fears about what is happening in Hong Kong.
When a Facebook follower asked if she could answer the sketch as a postcard to send to friends abroad, Kay Wong agreed. She decided to use her work as an artist, to help inform the whole world about the state of the protesters in a semi-autonomous city.
“After two million Hong Kong citizens protested and the government remained harsh, we felt hopeless. What can we do next? Maybe we can attract the attention of the world. We ask people who can make with us, open with Hong Kong,” she said when invited to a demonstration that attracted around 2 million people on June 16, according to the organizer.
Kay Wong doesn’t know how many of the postcards have been released, because she makes soft copies available online for people to download and print, but she has received positive responses.
There are almost no professional artists who create works and use their names. This is a reflection of the movement itself – leaderless and anonymous. We saw what happened at Occupy. People must learn to be careful in using their names,” said artist and independent curator Sampson Wong, who has been active since the 2014 Umbrella Movement.
Hong Kong protests have completed iconography. Many senior works of art emerged from the anti-extradition law movement which were very interesting and full of logic, often including slogans and watchwords.
When artists and protesters in the city raised their protests on posters and logos, entire industries sprung up around the protest merchandise, capitalizing on a wave of global attention for the city.
Hong Kong-based sticker printer, Gardenia Design, manufactures kawaii stationery (cute Japanese style), puts forest animals holding umbrellas, wears hats and glasses.
T-shirts such as “Anti-Extradition Club” (Anti-Social Social Club, watch out) and T-shirts that read “Welcome to the expired tear gas city” and stickers with cartoons with Carrie Executive Chief Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, head of the Hong Kong Government, toying with memes popularized by rapper Drake.
“Say no to the curry lamb,” a sentence by Singapore designer Claude Stargen, denied with Lam’s image as the animal returned above.
Gardenia Kwok, Gardenia joined Ip & Heathfield as a Solicitor Trainee in September 2018.
She received LLB from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and has since worked in legal research, NGOs and the public sector.
She also received a Masters of Arts in Comparative and Public History at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and LLM in Human Rights at the University of Hong Kong. She completed the Postgraduate Certificate in Law (PCLL) at the University of Hong Kong.
Gardenia was involved in all aspects of matrimonial law including divorce, prenuptial agreements, child and custody agreements and financial disputes. She speaks fluent English, Cantonese and Mandarin.
Activists and Artists are Old Actors
In 2014, the civil disobedience movement was spearheaded by the so-called trio of Occupy – academic law Benny Tai Yiu-ting, sociologist Chan Kin-man and longtime pro-democracy advocate Reverend Chu Yiu-ming – as well as leaders from the Hong Federation Student Groups and Intellectual.
At the 2019 protest, there was no clear leadership in the current movement against the extradition bill that is now being withdrawn.
While the 2014 protest movement appeared to be leaderless, and in fact several parties showed demonstrations that actually had decentralized leadership. For example, activists are divided into small groups responsible for various tasks, ranging from publication materials, logistics and media relations.
And the names that we mentioned above, are indicated or inspired by the 2014 Umbrella Movement. Ivan Lam, Charlos Hung, and Shampson Wong are activists and artists who have become old actors. While Kay Wong and Gardenia Kwok, were exposed and obsessed with a wave of protests that failed in 2014.
Poster Becomes a Negative Propaganda
For the demonstrators, visual arts clearly play an important role in supporting their protest.
Satire posters, incitement, and curses, became the main headline as propaganda that increasingly brought Hong Kong to ruin.
Instead of voicing positive messages and reconciliation, Hong Kong activists and artists bind hatred in what they call an art.
Art is a beauty, not a success. Unwittingly, propaganda posters invite their inability to have good democracy.
In accordance with their current tagline, “If we burn, then you burn,” it seems that their goals are slowly beginning to be obtained, built in Hong Kong and unsuccessful communities.