Public Talk by Wessie Ling: ‘Be Water’: How Hong Kong Protest Art Swims Against the Tide of Totalitarianism

21 November 2019

The unpopular enforcement of an extradition bill has sparked off a months-long protest in Hong Kong. The protesters adopt Bruce Lee’s tactics of ‘be water’ to evade the police crackdown, a process which has come to play a crucial role in the movement as well as the mass circulated visuals that support it. This talk looked at Hong Kong protest art to examine the stylistic strategy of ‘be[ing] water’ in the form of performance through visual representation. In conjunction with the talk was a review of a live art event in London made in solidarity with Hong Kong, Be Water, and its role in the social movement of Hong Kong.

Dr Wessie Ling is a Reader in Fashion Studies, a member of VM Cultures and teaches MA in Creative and Cultural Industries Management at the Department of Arts, Northumbria University. Her research examines cultural identities in the production of fashion. Recent volumes include Fashion in Multiple Chinas: Chinese Styles in the Transglobal Landscape (2018) and ‘Italianerie’: Transculturality, Co-creation and Transforming Identities between Italy and Asia, a special issue for Modern Italy (2019). As Rita Bolland Fellow at the Research Centre for Material Culture in the National Museum of World Cultures, she is observing Hong Kong protest art from an archival perspective.

In collaboration with the Spaces of Appearance research group, Northumbria University.

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