‘We Persist Therefore We Have Hope’: Protest Art from Hong Kong

Posted on: 11 May 2022

A new art exhibition featuring protest artists from Hong Kong goes on display in the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute this evening.

Entitled ‘We Persist Therefore we Have Hope: Trauma and Resilience of Hongkongers Through Their Art Since 2019’ the exhibition showcases work from seven Hongkonger artists shared as part of the pro-democracy protests.

The exhibition explores questions of trauma, resilience, solidarity, and resistance, and how these inform Hongkongers’ emerging identity as a distinct ethnic community. The seven Hongkonger artists are Juarts, KokDamon, Lumli Lumlong, Mei Yuk Wong, Monkmonki, Ricker Choi, and vawongsir. It features 18 large-format reproductions of art and two installation artworks. The exhibition runs until Fri June 2nd.

A panel discussion featuring a number of the artists will be held at 6pm this evening, Wed, May 11th, to mark the exhibition launch. They will discuss their contribution and process of creating resistance art. The event is free and open to the public.

Bringing together transdisciplinary perspectives across narrative medicine, resistance studies, and creative arts practice, the exhibition and discussion panel is the inaugural event of the “protest art” theme to be pursued by the Trinity Centre for Resistance Studies (CRS) in the coming years.

Mandy Lee, Assistant Professor, Centre for Health Policy and Management School of Medicine, one of the curators of the exhibition said:

This Hong Kong art exhibition is centred on the experiences of the Hongkonger community since the 2019 pro-democracy protests. The people of Hong Kong have suffered trauma as a result of the police brutality and ongoing political suppression since 2019, and our exhibition seeks to give voice to a vulnerable community whose freedom of expression has been severely undermined since the national security law came into force in 2020.

Despite the white terror imposed on the population, there are courageous individuals who continue to voice out for the community through their art, and we are honoured to feature the works of seven Hongkonger artists for this exhibition. Art has become one of the few avenues still open to the Hong Kong community to express dissent, and it is also a key medium by which members of a community, beset by mental health challenges following political repression, may find solace and support from one another.

Dr Nick Johnson, Associate Professor, Drama, who also curated the exhibition commented:

One of the core aims of the Creative Arts Practice research theme has long been to ‘give voice to the voiceless’ in the sense of elevating perspectives that would not otherwise be heard. We believe that the arts are crucial in helping us to activate embodiment, emotions, and community, and we hope to integrate the arts into the university’s wider academic mission of learning about the world and sharing that knowledge. The role of art within a university is particularly important in cases where state repression would exclude such voices from their own contexts. An institute like the Trinity Long Room Hub can build bridges between artists and researchers across disciplinary boundaries, to reflect together on how the creative freedom of these artists, and their solidarity with democratic movements everywhere, might plant seeds that could grow into real change.

Dr Balázs Apor, Associate Professor in European Studies, Centre for European Studies, co-curator of the exhibition added:

The Centre for Resistance Studies is proud to support the exhibition “We Persist, Therefore We Have Hope” presenting artwork inspired by the pro-democracy protests in Hong-Kong. The exhibition highlights the complex relationship between protest and art through a series of powerful images depicting vulnerability, trauma, fear, as well as defiance, hope, resilience and resistance. The event aligns with the Centre’s broader aims to explore the multi-layered entanglements between culture and opposition – in literature, film, visual art, and so on – from a multi-disciplinary perspective. The exhibition also functions as the inaugural event of the theme of “protest art” that will be investigated further in the coming years.

The exhibition is in the Ideas Space, Trinity Long Room Hub and can be seen from 10am – 5pm, Monday – Friday 11 May until June 2nd, 2022. 

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Fiona Tyrrell | Media Relations | tyrrellf@tcd.ie | +353 1 896 3551