Pro-Beijing media goes after Tai Kwun art show for ‘glorifying rioting’

Published (HKT): 2021.04.07 06:05

Another Hong Kong art exhibition has come under fire from pro-Beijing media, for “inciting violence and glorifying rioters” with artworks that depict the 2019 pro-democracy movement.

Beijing media mouthpiece Wen Wei Po on Tuesday published four articles criticizing an exhibition titled “The Unsung” held at Tai Kwun, an arts venue in Central. Some Beijing-loyal lawmakers were requesting the government to intervene, the paper reported.

An oil painting, “I am HA staff,” was singled out by the newspaper for evoking a medical-sector labor strike last year joined by frontline staffers of the Hospital Authority, the institution overseeing public health care. A photo collection titled “Sam” was also lambasted for an image featuring Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character that came to be adopted by protesters in 2019.

The artworks “smeared the police and glorified rioters,” Wen Wei Po said.

According to Tai Kwun, 14 Hong Kong-based artists were invited to “closely observe their surroundings during COVID-19 and select a particular person or group who has been highly affected by the pandemic and yet has nevertheless persevered.” The show is curated by Jill Angel Chun and Erin Li, and is open to the public from March 12 to May 2.

Wen Wei Po also took aim at three protest-related books kept in Tai Kwun’s library: two were collections of news photography while the third was a volume of illustrations.

The newspaper quoted an unspecified visitor as saying that the exhibition and the books “caused distress” and felt like a challenge to the heritage of Tai Kwun, once a police station.

Tai Kwun told Apple Daily that it was a law-abiding organization, and “has always supported artistic development and collaboration.” The statement did not respond directly to the accusations made by the pro-Beijing camp.

Apple Daily has contacted some of the affected artists for comment.

Last month, Hong Kong’s Beijing loyalists went after the M+ museum of contemporary art for its collection of artworks critical of China’s Communist Party. The museum later said it would not show a controversial photo by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei at its opening exhibition, slated for later this year.

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