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“All politics is quarrel, and power is the ordering such quarrel sorts out: that much is general. What is not general is the nature of the quarrel or the shape of the ordering.”
── Clifford Geertz. After the Fact: Two Countries, Four Decades, One Anthropologist.
In quest of freedom and democracy, how do the younger generations make a choice or judgement? How do they let their voices be heard through their art works and embody values in their actions?
Over the past two years, Hong Kong has been the protest site receiving the most global attention. We have seen how young people attacked by tear gas squatted down and covered their faces in pain, and then, without fear at all, jumped to their feet and kept fighting for democracy and freedom. The Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement (the Anti-ELAB Movement) began in March of 2019 and erupted in June of the same year. In the face of the ever-tightening totalitarian grip, Hongkongers are still keeping up resistance.
When the movement is about to enter its third year and it's been over half a year since the passing of the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (the Hong Kong national security), this exhibition, titled "Be Water, Be Fire, Be a Voice: Actions in the Everyday Ordinary," is blessed to take place here at the Pier-2 Art Center. The theme is set in accord with the resistant spirit in Hong Kong---Be water, be fire, be a voice (speak out or act out).
With more than 100 works ranging from photography, illustration, comics, sculpture and graphic design to mini-zines and publications, this exhibition borrows elements from three exhibitions in 2020 that were centered around Hong Kong's issues, including the "Brushes of Resistance – One-Year Anniversary Exhibition of Imagery from the Hong Kong Anti-ELAB Movement," "Surmount – Widening Whirl Of Our Times," and "2020 Taiwan Press Photo Exhibition," in an attempt to re-interpret the meanings being conveyed and lay out a new path of narrative:
The 40-meter protest banner raised up in the Anti-ELAB Movement and sculptures of various sizes are courtesy of the Surmount exhibition held by the Hong Kong Outlanders. Through this collective creation, youths of different ages aspire to voice their outcries, bear witness to the movement, inspire more action, and preserve collective memories.
The exhibits in the "Gaze through the Lens" area are winners of the annual Taiwan Press Photograph Contest organized by the Taiwan Press Photographer Association and demonstrate how journalists gather evidence that reflects the times, resists forgetting, and discloses the selfishness and violence of the state apparatus and those with power. In the "Brushes of Resistance" area, there is a wide array of graphic works from illustrators, comic book artists, poster designers, etc. Anonymous creators proactively and flexibly used the Internet and spread their works as a way to respond to and take part in the movement.
While these exhibition areas let us see different creative media and methods, the themes show the same care and concerns.
History happens constantly, and we bring back the past to remind everyone that more efforts are to be made to safeguard and promote human rights. The "Dasein: We Are Here and Now" area showcases various publications whose texts and images tell of the endeavors of the forerunners and also ask us what legacy we will leave for the future generations.
Exhibitions can serve as an interface to communicate with viewers. How are we to make possible the discussion of public issues? Before the opening of this exhibition, we were still reflecting on how to face the ever-shrinking space for public voices.
We don't have a wide-ranging discussion on Hannah Arendt's actualization of freedom through action in the spaces of public politics or look back on Habermas's structural transformation of the public sphere. We don't reiterate Michel de Certeau's definition of tactics as the many defensive practices in everyday life or Erik Olin Wright's envisioning of real utopias and action to make utopias real.
It was the sacrifice of lives and the physical struggle against oppression that endow the exhibits with inspirational power. Although the exhibition is a representation of the past, we believe that it can serve to encourage radical action:
History is becoming, not being, and no one is an outsider. We can still speak out loud; we are all part of our times.
◉ Curators Guide ◉
2021.02.06 Sat. 15:00-16:00
2021.02.13 Sat. 14:00-18:00
◉“Blurred Vision in Tear Gas, Clear View through the Lens : Stories of the Anti-ELAB Movement & Diaspora of
Hongkongers under the National Security Law”◉
2021.03.06 Sat. 15:00-17:00
Speakers: Sherry LIN (editor in chief of the Reporter, winner of 2021 TIBE Book Prize in editorship category),
Fu-Nien TSAO (journalist of the Reporter), Willy YANG (journalist of the Reporter), Jean CHEN (freelance journalist)
◉ "Reflections on Photography and Social Movement" ◉
2021.03.07 Sun. 15:00-17:00
Speakers: Tzu-Ming HUANG (image worker), Chia-Chi CHEN (photography researcher),
Kent CHUANG (managing director of Taiwan Press Photographer Association)
Be Water, Be Fire, Be a Voice: Actions in the Everyday Ordinary
◆Official Organizer: Bureau of Cultural Affairs, Kaohsiung City Government; the Pier-2 Art Center
◆Co-Organizers: Taiwan Press Photographer Association; the Hong Kong Outlanders
◆Curation Team: Jean CHEN, Kent CHUANG, Su-Ting YANG
◆Visual Designer: DONGDOU (Beanincave)
◆Exhibition Designer and Coordinator: U.U Design
◆Official Print Partner: Qualissence