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Occupy Protesters Deface Photos in the Name of Art

Burning, eating, and drawing over photographs might not be considered a conventional way to create works of art, but for Hong Kong based teacher and photographer Kent Foran, it was the perfect way to capture the mood of the Occupy Movement. He tells us about the masterpieces which will be on show this April at the OCCUPY/Art exhibition at Sense 99.

OCCUPY/Art began with a simple enough idea: what would happen if photos of the Occupy HK Movement were scattered throughout the occupied areas, with participants encouraged to re-interpret them in any way they saw fit? This idea became, over the months of the occupation, an expansive project, spread over three protest sites and eventually around the world, and involving dozens of occupiers, activists, and artists.

For months, each night was spent documenting the protests, talking to occupiers, handing out photos, collecting art, and tracking down people whose tents had moved. No guidelines were given, and participants were free to choose from an ever-growing number of photos. “Do anything you want to it” was the refrain. Some people wrote slogans. Some covered photos in tape, metal, leather, or whatever else was lying around. One young man ate a photo on the flyover because he was “hungry for democracy”. Some were angry and some were optimistic. Many joined us and helped us manage the project at street level.

150330 - Occupy Protesters Deface Photos in the Name of Art - Hungry for democracy

150330 - Occupy Protesters Deface Photos in the Name of Art - kids umbrellaThe result is an eclectic collection of work that offers an honest, immediate, and widely representative reflection of the frustrations and aspirations of those that made up the movement, while they were still in the middle of it.

Most of the art was created by protestors on the streets of Admiralty, Mong Kok, and Causeway Bay, and many pieces still bear the scars of misplaced footsteps, bad weather, and crowded tents. Also included in the collection are works created by artists from Hong Kong, Mainland China, and around the world. The exhibition will also allow visitors to add their voice to the conversation by providing space and materials to create more work.

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