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Artists of Occupy Central: Creatives Inspired by the Fight for Democracy

By Stasia Fong 7 November 2014
  The political art lining Hong Kong's streets these days is as varied as the creative minds behind them. United by a common message, riffing off the yellow umbrella embraced by the movement for democracy in our city, each artwork is a reflection of the person who took the time to represent their view through a unique design. We spoke with three artists, Francesco Tortorella (Rome), Joe Choi (Hong Kong), and Fm Monteverde (Manila), all creators of graphic design illustrations inspired by the current political climate, to share their thoughts of the Occupy Central demonstrations and the inspiration behind their art.

Francesco Tortorella

  "Civil disobedience is one of a few tools we have to make our voices be heard. The media that compared Hong Kong to Tienanmen Square made me think. In my opinion, the two protests are not comparable as well as Hong Kong is not comparable to Mainland China. I thought about revisiting the aesthetics of the red guards prints dating back to the Cultural Revolution that has influenced several student movements around the world, united by the dream of a 'different' and a better society. As I've done in most of my work, I wanted to be a little sarcastic and even express a slight criticism. I added in some well-known Western brands, which are symbolic of the contradictions generated by globalization. I also wanted to call up the news regarding the Instagram restrictions, so I replaced the Little Red Book with a smartphone, in some way a metaphor for freedom of expression. Hard to see a radical change from the Chinese central government but I hope that this situation could lead to a greater dialog box." - Francesco Tortorella

Joe Choi

  "My personal feeling is that the movement happening now is far beyond the original Occupy Central idea. So I won't call it Occupy Central anymore. I think the whole revolution has become so big because there are a lot of Hong Kongers who love this place so much and truly believe that this is our place. They hold the true value of Hong Kong: determined, strong, disciplined, gentle, just, and brave. All of these inspired me to create this work. This is our place, we own the future of this place. We would do anything to protect our place." - Joe Choi

FM Monteverde

  "I was doing some work when I first got a glimpse of the news. The television was broadcasting the morning news, and later in the afternoon I found a chance to read about it further online. I have learned that it was the students, the young generation, who are mobilizing to be heard. I am always an activist by heart, and when I saw the picture of police firing tear gas and pepper spray, I just felt bad about it. So I went to my PC and did something as a reaction to what was happening. I titled it "SOLIDARITY" to show support for their cause. The issue might divide opinions, and the people of Hong Kong, and as an outsider, it might be too early to jump in, but for the thousands of young folks waiting to be heard, you just can't plug your ears, close your eyes and walk away." - FM Monteverde Has any Occupy Central art caught your eye? Want to share the story behind a piece of art you created? Please send your work to [email protected]. This is the third installment of our 'Artists of Occupy Central' series.

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Born in Singapore and raised in Hong Kong, Stasia Fong is a freelance writer with dreams of breaking into the television industry and executive produce her own television show.