Dialogue of Protest Objects
A few weekends ago, I had the fortune of being invited to speak at the Chicago Design Museum on the topic of Protest Objects on a panel with academics, artists, art historians, and architects for what was truly one of the most rewarding conversations I've been a part of. The talk was held in the space of the Confluence 20+ : Creative Ecologies of Hong Kong, a traveling exhibition that showcases the work of young Hong Kong artists and designers and a presentation of the state of being Hong Kong-ese 20 years post-British handover.
I didn't get a chance to peek around the Chicago show, but I was actually able to catch it when it was being shown at the Triennale Museum in Milan during Design Week earlier this year. Here are a few fun notes:
I could hardly believe, however, that we were having that depth of conversation about this topic in the middle of the North American land mass, a context that would have been completely irrelevant if not for the wonderful Hong Kongers that live and work and study there and incited this dialogue.
Titled From Umbrella Movement to Chicago : Dialogue of Protest Objects, this panel was created on the advent of the visit of Sampson Wong, a Hong Kong artist and academic who actively documented the objects created during the 2014 protests in the Umbrella Revolution Visual Archive project. His talk the day prior, Objects for Protest: Crowd creation, spatial practice and archiving dissent in Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement, covered the emergence of bottom-up architecture, socially engaged art, public art, and disobedient objects in this protest context of unprecedented scale in Hong Kong. His work is fascinating and important - he can be found online here.
During the presentations, I talked about my Connectivity Collection, a group of interfacing objects that enhance a user's connected-ness to amplify their effectiveness in a protest situation. The conversation that followed provided a really fascinating survey of a broad range of disciplines - from cartography to sociological study, each panelist's projects and research related in some way to the identity of Hong Kong, spanning topics of global movement, protest creativity, theories of activist objects, and the relationship between art and resistance.
A truly wonderful weekend that has given so much food for thought!
Aram Han Sifuentes, Visual Artist
Thomas Kong, Architect and Professor, SAIC
Maud Lavin, Professor of Visual and Critical Studies, SAIC
Jonathan D Solomon, Director of Arch., Interior Arch., and Designed Objects, SAIC
Mechtild Widrich, Assistant Professor in Art History, SAIC
Sampson Wong, Academic, Artist, Lecturer at HKAPA
myself, Celine Setiadi.