Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

World

Dissident artists lament Hong Kong Tiananmen statue's removal

Dissident Chinese artists have decried a Hong Kong university’s removal of a statue honouring protesters killed at Tiananmen Sq.

Dissident artists lament Hong Kong Tiananmen statue's removal
Hong Kong's oldest university has dismantled and removed a statue commemorating democracy protesters killed by Chinese troops around Tiananmen Square in 1989 - Copyright AFP Mohd RASFAN
Hong Kong's oldest university has dismantled and removed a statue commemorating democracy protesters killed by Chinese troops around Tiananmen Square in 1989 - Copyright AFP Mohd RASFAN
Holmes CHAN, Amber WANG

Dissident Chinese artists, including Ai Weiwei, have decried a Hong Kong university’s removal of a statue honouring protesters killed at Tiananmen Square, telling AFP that artistic freedoms are evaporating as Beijing tightens control.

In the early hours of Thursday, Hong Kong’s oldest university dismantled and removed a statue commemorating democracy protesters killed by Chinese troops around Tiananmen Square in 1989.

The eight-metre (26-foot) high “Pillar of Shame” by Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot had sat on the campus since 1997, the year the former British colony was handed back to China.

Ai, one of China’s best known dissident artists, said he was not surprised by the statue’s removal, given how dramatically Beijing is transforming Hong Kong into a mirror of the authoritarian mainland.

“(The statue) is about the truth and every moment of the Chinese Communist Party regime is about covering up and taking control of the truth,” Ai told AFP.

The artist, who now lives in Germany, said he felt the city’s universities had lost their autonomy under the national security law, which Beijing imposed last year after huge and often violent pro-democracy protests two years ago.

The law has criminalised much dissent and transformed the once outspoken city. Any talk of artistic freedom in this context is futile, Ai argued.

“Hong Kong is in the middle of a tempest, finding quiet and safety is impossible.”

In November, Ai became the centre of attention in Hong Kong after the newly opened multimillion-dollar M+ museum decided not to display one of his photo series.

That sparked debate about whether political art has any future in Hong Kong, once a regional arts hub unshackled from China’s censorship.

– ‘A masterpiece’ –

Dissident artist Badiucao represents a new generation of political illustrators, penning near-daily satire on Twitter and other social media.

Now living in Australia, he praised the “Pillar of Shame” sculpture as “absolutely a masterpiece” that served as a source of personal inspiration for him during multiple visits to the city.

“A lot of us appreciate the existence of the pillar, particularly in a university in Hong Kong. It is something that always makes us feel hope, passion and vision for the future,” Badiucao told AFP.

“But now this has been taken away from us.”

The 35-year-old cartoonist, whose work regularly mocks Beijing’s leaders, recently held his first international solo exhibition in the Italian city of Brescia, after organisers defied warnings from Chinese authorities.

Hong Kong visual artist Kacey Wong described the statue’s removal as the “beginning of the Hong Kong Cultural Revolution”.

Wong compared the midnight operation — where construction workers dismantled the statue while hidden from public view — to a grave robbery.

“It is shocking to see a university fall so drastically committing a shameful act against the law and against culture and humanity under the influence of the Chinese Communist Party,” said Wong, who moved to Taiwan earlier this year, citing security fears.

“The people will not forget, not the people of the free world.”

AFP
Written By

With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

You may also like:

Tech & Science

The Tesla Cybertruck is the most searched-for future electric vehicle in the UK.

Business

The EU warned Apple that its App Store is breaching its DMA rules, placing the iPhone maker at risk of billions of dollars in...

Business

Tax cuts will have no impact whatsoever.  

Tech & Science

This points to extremely powerful rotating, magnetic winds helping this galaxy’s central supermassive black hole to grow.