Resistance in Hiding: An Archive
At 11pm on June 30th, 2020, the night before the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China and one year after the start of the Hong Kong protests, a sweeping National Security Law was officially passed in Hong Kong. Prior to the release of the details, nobody in Hong Kong was allowed to see the details of the law - not even Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
Taking the form of 66 far-reaching articles, it re-defines and criminalizes actions that the Chinese Communist Party considers to be acts of “subversion, secession, terrorism, and foreign interference,” essentially criminalizing all forms of dissent. With a judicial reach that applies to everybody on the planet, the National Security Law has far-reaching implications for the world.
As the city awoke to a new reality, with individuals suddenly liable to arrest for the mere possession of stickers or the repeating of popular protest slogans, a heavy blanket of fear fell over the city. Waves of social media accounts were suddenly deleted and the urgent question of emigration overtook whispered conversations.
However, in line with the Hong Kong protest movement’s reputation for being creatively versatile, satirically snarky, and stubbornly resilient, citizens also quickly adjusted accordingly. Artists and social media users found imaginative ways to work around the new restrictions, playing with visual, auditory, and symbolic puns. Resistance continued to quietly persist. Taking the forms of blank pages and codes, these subtle symbols have replaced what many were now unable to voice out. One only needs to look.
As the situation in Hong Kong shifted from taking place on tear-gassed streets to a much more insidious existence, this series seeks to document the invisible impacts of and responses to the National Security Law. Presented in a style reminiscent of a museum’s archive, this series also seeks to draw attention to many of Hong Kongers’ fears that the tumultuous year that the city has just experienced will be remembered as nothing more than a footnote in history, gathering dust in a museum - if allowed to be remembered at all.