With the absence of effort to decolonize its one hundred and fifty years of British rule, a distrust of the local and the central government, and a sense of superiority over the mainland Chinese and more, Hong Kong people feel hopeless while the city struggles to maintain its unique disposition and status amid China and the world’s rapid development. The series of protests since 2003 reacting to China-related issues, policies and legislations are essentially outcries of citizens suffocating in the muddy floods of ideological conflicts, moral dilemmas, and identity confusion. Some believe we ought to be personally responsible citizens therefore all acts of violence shall not be justified; some see being personally responsible is not enough and that joining protests is a means to exhibit themselves as participatory citizens; and some argue civil disobedience and violence is the only way for justice-oriented citizens to confront systematic oppression. But ultimately, what kind of citizens and society do we want? (Westheimer & Kahne, 2004)
This proposed art exhibition, an independent website, seeks to address the civil identity complex in Hong Kong. Including artworks from local artists/educators and students, collages of local and global headlines and artworks, short video clips, audio recordings of local musicians improvising to express their emotions towards the city’s situation, and interactive storyboards, the exhibition’s goal is to spark discussions and reflections on: (1) the concepts of home, identity, citizenship, and social responsibility; (2) the interplay and struggles among these concepts and with education under an unstable socio-political environment; and (3) the role of education among these concepts under modern globalization.
The significance of this exhibition is manifold. Firstly, Hong Kong presents an interesting case on how an international, capitalistic hub in Asia wrestles with its fate of transforming from a former British colony with some degree of democratic participation into a socialistic society: What does this change mean to the locals regarding the concepts of citizenship and social responsibility? How are the people behaving and feeling towards the changes? The arts, a genuine medium to explore human emotions, self-identity and aspiration, serves as a wonderful alternative to examine the context. Secondly, the past fifteen months have often been described as Hong Kong people’s “collective political awakening”. The exhibition serves as a precious, artistic, inclusive record of a period of momentous change in the Hong Kong society. Furthermore, it is extremely crucial to offer the international community a local context with diverse views on a complex social issue as we emphasize the reflection on the meaning of local and global citizenship and social responsibility. Through the exhibition, the audience are invited to see through different lenses, feel with different narratives, and reflect and imagine with creativity.