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“We Persist, Therefore We Have Hope” Concluding panel webinar

June 20, 2022 – On June 2nd 2022, the Trinity Long Room Hub hosted an online panel discussion to mark the end of ‘We Persist Therefore We Have Hope’, an exhibition dedicated to visual art reflecting on the Hong Kong protests in recent years, supported by the Trinity Centre for Resistance Studies.

When faced with injustice and political suppression, art can help a community voice its pain.

Since May 11, the Trinity Long Room Hub has hosted an exhibition featuring the work of seven Hong Kong protest artists: Juarts, KokDamon, Lumli Lumlong, Mei Yuk Wong, Monkmonki, Ricker Choi, and vawongsir. The exhibition, titled We Persist Therefore we Have Hope: Trauma and Resilience of Hongkongers Through Their Art Since 2019’, explores questions of trauma, resilience, solidarity, and resistance, and how these inform Hongkongers’ emerging identity as a distinct ethnic community.

Art creates hope, and as long as there is art there is hope for the people of Hong Kong.
co-curator Dr Balazs Apor, Director of Trinity’s Centre for Resistance Studies.

To mark the closing stages of the exhibition, which has attracted a large number of visitors online and in-person, the Trinity Long Room Hub hosted a discussion panel to reflect on the display, with a particular emphasis on its themes of trauma and resilience.

“The role of art within a university is particularly important in cases where state repression would exclude such voices from their own contexts”, said panel host Dr Nick Johnson, Associate Professor of Drama and co-curator of the exhibit. Along with Nick, the panel featured Catherine Marshall, art historian and curator, and Jessica Ní Mhainín, policy and campaigns manager with Index on Censorship.

Before the panel began, Provost Linda Doyle formally opened the event by speaking about the significance of global perspectives and academic autonomy. “This is an exhibition that’s important in the general life of a university, where the university is going, and the kind of things that we in the world need to stand up for,” the Provost said.

Panellist Catherine Marshall then explored other examples of resistance art from recent history in relation to the work of the Hong Kong artists. In particular, Catherine spoke about the works of Soviet conceptual artist Ilya Kabakov, and German-born Hans Haacke's institutional critique of capitalist art.

After this, Jessica Ní Mhainín discussed how the current landscape of authoritarianism, security legislation, and censorship is stifling many dissenting voices through the world.

After hearing from the panel, Dr Apor and fellow co-curator Dr Mandy Lee, from Trinity’s School of Medicine, spoke about the importance of the exhibit and the hope it can bring to others around the world.

“Art has become one of the few avenues still open to the Hong Kong community to express dissent”, said Dr Lee. “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.”

The exhibition will run in the Trinity Long Room Hub until July 1, 2022.

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