In 1997 Hong Kong was handed over to China, but still keeping some of its privileges. However, the city has seen changes it should not have seen before the agreed conditions of the handover with 50 years of special administration. It's been over a year since the protests started in Hong Kong. The protests were triggered by the suggested controversial extradition bill, which later was withdrawn in September 2019 caused by protests. However, the demonstration continued since all the five demands of the protesters were not fulfilled and today it's still not fulfilled. The protest also grew into a fight for freedom of speech, a fight against police brutality, wanting universal suffrage, democracy and much more.
Several things became a common vision in Hong Kong during the protests. Lennon Walls popped up around the city for Hong Kongers to come together, share thoughts, be one and have a place for shared hope. It was a place for slogans to be shared and written down. It was a place strongly valued by Hong Kongers, and it became a place for art and creativity. The citys creativity is blooming and the artpieces is ranging from oregami, mosaic art, sculptures, paintings and drawings. Slogans also became an imortant thing to keep the hope up and to keep the spirit alive. The slogans of Hong Kongers is something that creates a common identity, a sense of belonging, power and hope.
Around the city slogans, questions and feelings were written on walls, on the ground, in tunnels, and every place where people could see it. Seeing a slogan will make you remember what has happened and keep the spirit alive. It becomes an important part of the Hong Kong way of protesting. Colorful post notes filles the city, as well as graffitti. The graffiti could be found all over the city. it's a way of expressing opinions, making people aware of what is happening in the city and shedding light on the situation. The walls filled with post-it notes, posters and slogans became a way of communicating and informing people about the situation.
“I went to a huge Lennon Wall at Tsing Yi station. It was during the early stages of the demonstrations and the Lennon walls was new, and it was growing at this point. When I went there I felt a sense of community and common interest. Everyone there was happy and shared their thoughts on post-it notes. Another thing that surprised me was that when we were there, the people that took care of the Lennon Wall offered us snacks and drinks. The people that took care of the Lennon Wall also took care of everyone who came there. It was a very warm place, and everyone came there. No matter age, occupation or situation”.
However, as time has passed, the Lennon Walls and the slogans have been removed or painted over. Hong Kong is a city that is obsessed with looking clean, neat and neutral. So the art started to be removed. The art was taken down and the graffiti painted over. All over the city walls with grey squares can be found. These squares are the symbol of the past, but also the present. These grey squares are supposed to hide the encouraging slogans form the protest and the dissatisfaction toward the government. The squares were also supposed to make the walls and pavements cleaner, however it may seem like they tried to make it obvious what is painted over. This especially became obvious after implementation of the National Security Law, which has left people careful to express themselves. The squares can create the illusion that what is said or expressed earlier is not true or something that does not belong in the city, even though this is highly debatable. The squares are there but may not be easily noticeable when just walking past, but when thinking about it, we all know why they are there and we know what it is trying to hide.
The paint is always in a different color than the original color of the wall, sidewalk, and the other flat areas. The patchwork therefore stands out just as much as the graffiti it's trying to hide. Even though the slogans are covered up, we all know what is the reason for the squares and the glue residue around Hong Kong. As someone wrote on the freshly painted graffiti:
“You can can cover the text, but you can't cover the fact”
If you want to read more about this, we suggest you to check out these links:
Giraffe Leung: the artist who framed the scars left by months-long protests in Hong Kong - https://hongkongfp.com/2020/04/12/giraffe-leung-the-artist-who-framed-the-scars-left-by-months-long-protests-in-hong-kong/
about: NOTHING TO SEE HERE. The subtle art of graffiti suppression during the 2019 Hong Kong protests. - https://typicalplan.com/projects/penning-hong-kong-protest-graffiti-suppression