Hong Kong protests stood out for peace and art

Peace and art amidst KH protests
Hong Kong, Oct 9: The recent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong attracted global attention not only for their remarkably peaceful nature and the friendly spirit of its participants but also for their artistic component.

The art of the "Umbrella Revolution" turned student-occupied areas into exhibition spaces where street artists give free rein to their creations that have democracy as a common denominator. Several students protected themselves with umbrellas from the tear gas used by Hong Kong police to disperse students during the second night of protests.

The umbrella, used as a shield, became not only the symbol of an urban revolution, but also the canvas on which many artists have chosen to express their vision of the popular protest.

The umbrella revolution is also a revolution of symbols, artistic expressions transmitted through photographs, sculptures, logos, posters, emblems, installations or music.

It gives free rein to the creation of varied street art that takes citizens on a stroll through a gallery of living art, down the middle of streets occupied by the movement. The piece that gets most attention because of its size and symbolism is a three-metre high statue of a person holding an umbrella.

It bears a resemblance to the "Goddess of Democracy" put up in Tinanamen Square 25 years ago during the student protests demanding democracy but which ended in a massacre.

Its creator, an art student nicknamed "Milk", constructed it out of pieces of wood with the help of 10 friends, and since last Sunday, it has become one of the most photographed sights of the civil protest.

"Umbrella Revolution" turned student-occupied areas into exhibition spaces

Umbrellas with original works of art painted on them, messages, and even those used for protection from the sun or intermittent storms, also serve as a form of creative expression.

Art students from Hong Kong Baptist University created a giant tent out of broken umbrellas, conveying the idea of "taking advantage of the resources we have to make a visual impact on people".

The students proclaimed that "we have ideas and we want to be seen, and want them to know that even if we fall, we have resources to lift us up again", Anne Lan, a participant in this project told Spanish news agency Efe.

Street art has taken advantage of every last inch of space of the occupied areas and at traffic signals. The blocked streets, which so far had been useful in getting around the city, now offer "democracy" among its destinations.

Signs indicating street names, like Connaught Road, one of the urban arteries leading to northern Hong Kong, the city's financial and commercial centre, appears covered with signs giving the street its new name of "True Democracy".

Music as another artistic expression of these protests likewise demonstrates the creativity of the protestors, with "revolutionary" hymns heard online with rhyming stanzas repeating the keywords of revolt: umbrella, democracy, freedom and people.


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