Sep 30, 2019
The hard hat has become as recognisable as the umbrella in HK’s mvmt. While mostly a symbol for the frontline at the start, the helmet’s proliferated in the art, paralleling the spread of fear but also of resistance.
The hard hat has been with this mvmt from June, a legacy of Umbrella Mvmt - art on gear HKers shld equip themselves with all had the trusty yellow helmet on them. Note it was still sth strictly for the frontlines - only they need to brave the dangers that require a hard hat.
These from early Jul shows our ‘ranks’ - only frontliners hv hard hats. Wearing a helmet is sign u’re ready to brave HKPF’s horrors, sign u’re willing to take actions the ‘peaceful’s may not dare to. It’s sign of someone who’s harden themselves to our new normal of violence.
Things changed. Jul 21 saw CCP-backed thugs storm an MTR (metro) station and indiscriminately assault HKers while HKPF refused to show up & take action. MTR is HK’s lifeline, we travel on it, meet & shop in its stations… what happened was a violation to all ordinary HKers.
Our art began to put hard hats on everyone- guy going to work, woman in retail. They reflect how no HKer feels safe anymore & how we can no longer be neutral in the face of govt incompetence and institutional injustice. We must all take a stand. We must all don our hard hats.
So hard hats proliferated in our art. We put them on babies, cats, mechas, Jeanne d’Arc, lanterns, Uncle Sam… Light-hearted fun, yes, but also sign of how much fear and insecurity has grown- even the innoncent, the dead, the fictional are not immune to the HKPF’s violence.
More importantly, the hard hat became about HKers standing up in solidarity. White- and blue- collar alike don the same hard hat. Our men and women strike together under one helmet. Hard hats come together to form a new, brighter, sturdier bauhinia, symbol of our city.
Hard hats no longer define ‘ranks’. Compare these to earlier works from Jul. Everyone’s helmeted, implying all HKers are now ready to face down police brutality, that all HKers have hardened themselves to idea that it takes more than peaceful protests to achieve one’s goals.
None of us want this. Students shld not need to wear hard hats when in human chains, in case thugs assault them. Reporters shld not need to wear helmets on the job, in case they get head shot by the HKPF. Freedom from fear is important for any functioning society.
But HKers no longer have that luxury. The govt’s weapon is fear, to strip us of all sense of safety and security until we yield, and likely not even then. But as fear spread, so has hope, so has resistance. We take a stand. We make our stand. We will all don our hard hats.