Oct 20 2019
HK protest art increasingly touches on the more terrifying & painful chapters of the mvmt through the language of horror movies. We explore these protest art to understand HKers’ fears, paranoia, but also hope for the mvmt.
The 1st wave of horror-inspired art mostly referenced the Purge. They appeared after Jul 21, when thugs stormed a MTR stn to assault HKers while HKPF turned a blind eye. HKers saw the Purge-like lawlessness- except it’s part of everyday life for us, not just an annual event.
Our protest art quickly descended from depicting horrors of human behavior to the supernatural. We saw a batch of Hungry Ghost Festival-themed art in Aug, after step-up in police brutality & HKPF stopping ppl from traditions of burning joss paper to ‘feed’ ancestors’ ghosts.
Our art says hangry ghosts will unleash their vengeance - an eye for an eye & give the HKPF a taste of their own putrid tg. Right one here depicts the govt HQ as the opened gates of hell; the spirits are coming thru to exact justice, so those who’ve committed evil, beware!
A bit different: these ‘Grudge’ & ‘Ring’ inspired art warns HKers against giving in to fear of ghosts (slang for spies), & appeared after scuffles at HKIA w/ mainlanders. Deep cuts, as these movies touch on unending chains of violence; our art says we must break the cycle.
Ofc, MTR gets its share of horror art. Most ref. Aug 31 when HKPF assaulted HKers in a stn; rumors swirl to this day they killed someone. The horror here is psychological - no ghosts or skulls, just blood, shadows & a funereal pall. Our imagination & worst fears do the rest.
The horror art truly takes off in early Sept w/ San Uk Ling, a remote detention centre on the border, used by HKPF to lock up arrestees. There have been allegations of senseless extrajudicial beatings, deprivation of necessary medication & sexual assaults w/in the centre…
But since there’re no CCTVs & lawmakers hv bn denied entry, who’s to say horrors of fractured bones & ‘invasive searches’ actually happened?
Our art’s not convinced. SUL is depicted as a haunted place & ‘IT’ imagery implies whoever’s inflicting these pains cannot be human.
The latest horror reference is ‘Detention’. It highlights rise in suspicious deaths; but also, the film’s abt a student confronting guilt of collaborating w/ state during TW’s white terror period. It’s as much abt horrors of living under authoritarianism as it is abt ghosts.
I like to think the rise in horror protest art is bcos we all saw ‘IT’ & it’s nearly Halloween, but deep down I feel it’s bcos the terrors of injustice & police brutality HKers face can only be adequately conveyed via horror imageries. It’s hard to put into words otherwise.
But horror appeals also bcos of the promised catharsis- slashers get slayed, curses get broken, our biggest terrors are killed. Our art says, when we put down our fears, real or imagined, no one will be able to use them against us. Confronting horrors, that is how we win.
##Update, Nov 11 2019
UPDATE: It’s 11 Nov, & it being a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day & someone obviously having watched The Shining/Doctor Sleep, our art is all about psychological horror today. Am sad to not see a ‘Here’s Popo!’ art of HKPF breaking into a mall.
##Update, Feb 18 2020
UPDATE: … This is cursed.