Oct 1, 2019
As police brutality escalates, we trace HK art to see how those who were once men became dogs, and then worse. But cruelty we’ve suffered has also inspired radical ideas of ways fwd & hope that we may one day see our city in peace again.
HKers’ relations w/ HKPF were strained from the start but there’s a time when we still had hope. Even up till mid Jul, pamphlets appealed HKPF to work with HKers to bring those abusing power to justice. It tells them- ‘the ones who want you hurt, it’s not us, it’s the govt.’
Tone of art chged late Jul. Thugs stormed a metro stn to assault HKers as HKPF looked the other way on 21st. A wk later, HKPF stormed the same stn to assault HKers. Our art says - there’s no diff. btwn thugs and HKPF; we can’t rely on our law enforcem’t to enforce the law.
The dog imagery exploded in the art from this pt. The symbol works because in Chinese 走狗 (running dog) refers to an ass-kissing lackey, not that different from English. Our art suggests the HKPF are blindly following orders from a master that’s decidedly not the HK ppl.
As HKers watch the police shoot out eyes and aim for headshots, as our citizens are beaten and molested, as our children get arrested and elderly get pepper-sprayed… our rage grew, & the dogs in our art transformed from someone’s loyal pet into rabid, bloodthirsty hounds.
Even when not dogs, HKPF are now depicted w/ faces fully covered, w/ no distinguishable face. Bcos it’s hard to see how a human can mock a first aider’s crying pleas to help the injured. Hard to see how a human can pepper-spray a couple, scared and slumped on the floor.
… Hard to see how a human can aim a rifle at an unarmed man in flip flops, begging for mercy. The artistic choice is also informed by an unfortunate reality - HKPF no longer wear IDs as they’re supposed to. Without IDs, we cannot complain. We have no recourse to justice.
When a police force ceases to be accountable to its ppl, they become the very menace society’s supposed to be protected from. HKPF are now depicted in art as demons from the hell, fangs out and horned, gleeful at the thought of inflicting violence …how far they’ve fallen!
What’s the way out? One way is to have an independent inquiry into police actions. The more radical idea of disbanding the HKPF has also been proposed - unthinkable just 4mths ago, but goes to show how HKers have been actively thinking abt how they shld be policed & governed.
As I’ve stressed in these threads: none of this is normal, and it cannot be normal. Only 4 mths ago, HK was a city w/ a working police force; today, we’d a barrage of teargas and rubber bullets … & a kid shot in the chest at close range w/ live round, in front of cameras.
All bcos they know they can. Bcos they think when we realise no one watches the watchmen, we’d be cowed, we’d give in, we’d give up. That we’d let go of our dreams for a safer, fairer, more just society.
But the police must understand by now -
Ideas are bulletproof.
Bonus: 2 refs to the same painting(s) here. The direct homage is to Manet’s ‘The Execution of Emperor Maximilian’, but narrative has no direct read across to HK. BUT Manet was himself paying homage to Goya’s ‘The Third of May 1808’, which is abt the Spanish resistance to Napoleon.
Bonus 2: The art shows Lam obviously pulling the strings of the HKPF… but she’s also just another animal in a chain of them, leashed and bound. HKers are saying - we can’t just punish the dogs who bite & maim innocents, the master must also see judgment.
Update: We’ve had a lot more art on the HKPF in the last two weeks. Every day, we seem to be blasted w/ more images of police brutality, & you can feel the anger in our art.
Here, we have more police-as-dogs art drawings.
As mentioned, our art started showing a lot of the HKPF fully masked, devoid of humanity. Since the pic of a police gleefully pepper-spraying a journo went viral, some of our art shows the mask & that unsettling smile. The police are’t human, bcos they want to inflict violence.
There’s been more art depicting HKPF as some ungodly monstrosity recently. Understandable, as the police hv become more brazen in flouting laws. What’s new - HKPF as Death. Also not surprising, given rising suspicions that some recent deaths of protestors are not what they seem.
UPDATE: If you’re unconvinced relationship btwn the community & police is irreparable, the fact that HKers are the only ppl in the world who’ve been celebrating new coronavirus infection among HKPF should tell you everything.
Our art says basically says- the more the merrier.
Before you say that HKers are heartless, you have to understand we’ve had no real moment of catharsis. After mths of protests, good has not triumphed over evil. Our art views riot police falling to coronavirus as divine retribution; not good as democracy, but it’ll do for now.