Oct 14 2019
Lady Liberty has become a potent symbol for HKer’s fight for democracy, borne out of need to update our ideals for these revolting times. We trace the historical artistic influences to understand the mvmt’s present & future.
Lady Liberty, like all the best things of the mvmt, was created by the ppl, for the ppl. A vote was taken on LIHKG (HK’s reddit) & the chosen design was made via crowdfunding end of Aug. Some of the proposed designs below - note how a few took inspo from Delacroix, again.
The Marianne isn’t the only inspo tho - the more important ref is to the Goddess of Democracy, spiritual pillar of the 1989 mvmt. She was erected end May 1989 by students of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, influenced more by Soviet realism than the US Statue of Liberty.
She stood only 5 days, before the tanks rolled in &… well. But while the govt may topple a statue, they can’t extinguish the flame. HKers took the torch & erected our own Goddess, who stands watch at the annual June 4 vigils, patient & hopeful for her country.
The Goddess was a symbol up til Jul. To prepare her for new times we gave her a hardhat, gas mask & an ☂. 30yrs & she’s still defiant, ‘I’d rather be a freedom c*nt than be cowed by tyranny!’ Tyranny was not plsed, & a mainland student destroyed the statue at CUHK late Jul.
It was just as well. Police brutality intensified in Aug - teargas had become the norm & HKPF shot a first aider in the eye. Whatever ideals we’d had, legacies of failed dreams - we had to either let go, or update them for this more dangerous age. The Goddess had to gear up.
Libby was born. She’s a hardhat & mask like our frontliners. She wears a first aid kit & her goggle is damaged to honor the woman who got shot. In one hand she wields an☂ & the other, sth more powerful: a banner w/ our slogan - ‘Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our times!’
After 30 yrs of seeing the Goddess Demi’s serene defiance go nowhere, Libby’s ready to go wreck some shit. One foot astride, she wants action. Demi may look hopefully for the future to arrive, but Libby’s pose says ‘eff that, I’m going to clear my own way to the light.’
It’s the attitude that drives HKers nowadays. So we’re all moved when someone erected her on Lion Rock, where she raised our banner high. ‘I am a freedom c*nt & I won’t be cowed by tyranny!’ Tyranny was not plsed. Libby was found destroyed the next day, covered in red paint.
One thing - her name may be Liberty, but in Chinese, she’s still 民主女神 - Goddess of Democracy. It’s a sign that we now know we can’t have one w/out the other. So maybe Libby and Demi are the same after all, just that the former has grown hardened by her new realities.
Hardened but not hopeless. Libby has fallen like Demi b4 her & it’s hard to know what our own fate will be. But just as Democracy lit the torch 30yrs ago that still illuminates us, we must believe Liberty & what she stands for will live on to spark hopes for others to come.
Becos you can’t kill an idea. Technology has also meant our story & hopes have already spread and blossomed around the world w/ Libby. She’s been everywhere - even in Beijing! - & while she’s small, what she represents, the memory she stirs, the power she has, is mighty.
I leave you with the declaration of those who created Demi in 1989:
“The statue of the Goddess of Democracy…cannot stand here forever. But as the symbol of the people’s hearts, she is divine and inviolate. Let those who would sully her beware…
…the people will not permit this! …On the day when real democracy and freedom come to China, we must erect another Goddess of Democracy here in the Square, monumental, towering, and permanent. We have strong faith that that day will come at last. …
… We have still another hope: Chinese people, arise! Erect the statue of the Goddess of Democracy in your millions of hearts! Long live the people! Long live freedom! Long live democracy! “
Bonus 1: During the☂Mvmt, we had the ‘Umbrella Man’. According to the artist Milk, he wasn’t trying to evoke the Goddess, but the statue kinda does anyway. He stands, offering an ☂/ defiant in the rain/ hailing a taxi, made of many smaller blocks suggesting unity of HKers.
Bonus 2: For those who want to learn more, see the official video documenting the birth of Libby here:
Bonus 3: For those who want to follow the fun adventures of Libby, you can follow @hkladyliberty on Twitter and Instagram!
And if you want to 3D print a little Libby to call your own - the file can be found here.