New exhibition explores Hong Kong protests

  • Date

    Mon 21 May 18

Yellow umbrella on black and white background

A new art exhibition curated by Essex Masters students explores pro-democracy protests that took place in Hong Kong in recent years.

In 2014, the Chinese government announced it would screen political candidates before they could stand for election in Hong Kong. Thousands of people protested in the city’s streets in response.

The ‘Umbrella Movement’, as it later came to be known, took its name from the umbrellas demonstrators used as improvised shields against the police’s pepper spray, and which became a symbol of resistance and unity.  

(In)Tension: One Country, Two Systems, open now at Art Exchange, features pieces created in response to the movement. The exhibition was put together as a final project by a group of MA Curating students, including Kayo Lu. 

Kayo said: “We realised that general awareness about the movement seemed to be limited and decided to focus on this event, relating it to contemporary art which has responded in several ways.

“With this exhibition, we wish to trigger a deeper reflection about the Umbrella Movement and its ideas. We would also like the audience to think again about democracy, human rights and nationality – and about art and how it can lead or highlight political stances and movements.”

The curators with gallery and art history staff, at the exhibition launch party)
The curators with gallery and art history staff, at the exhibition launch party

The exhibition features sculptures by Kacey Wong and photography and video by artists including Suki Mok, Nicole Tung, Sampson Wong, Chilai Howard and Birdy Chu. 

Dr Gavin Grindon, Lecturer in Art History, said: "I’m really proud of the work the students have done putting into practice everything they have learnt on our MA in Curating. We have a particular focus on politics and activist-art in our department, and the exhibition takes on these issues in relation to the still unresolved struggles for democracy in Hong Kong with genuine care and thoughtfulness."

A range of talks and workshops during the exhibition’s run will create a forum for further conversation and debate: 

  • watch artist Suki Mok in conversation with Dr Carlos Gigoux and Dr Gavin Grindon on Thursday 24 May (6pm—8pm)
  • take part in an Origami Society Workshop on Saturday 2 June (1pm—2:30pm)
  • listen to artist Kacey Wong talk about his work on Thursday 14 June (6pm—8pm)
  • get involved in our badge-making sessions (timings TBC)

‘(In)Tension: One Country, Two Systems’ is at Art Exchange at our Colchester Campus until 16 June 2018. Entry is free.

The exhibition is curated by Clémentine Marcelli, Isaac Martinez-Lafuente, Kayo Lu, Patricia Hsu, Sabrina Taylor, Sofia Fuentes Dosal, Thomas Lacy and Vicki Leong.