Freedom, in its various forms, is often taken for granted. Once challenged, it can lead to a clamour throughout society. In the streets of Hong Kong, the clamour of a call to freedom from Chinese rule echoed for several months of turbulent social unrest in 2019. My project titled ‘Handover’ depicts freedom and the manner in which this was understood in Hong Kong, in a transitionary period from protest towards an unknown future.
As a German citizen and Hong Kong resident, I felt the need to document the historic events of 2019 in my own way. Throughout the year, I had visited popular tourist spots and places of protest in the midst of Mainland Chinese tourists and locals. These, I photographed in order to depict freedom in its various notions. Intentionally, I photographed the portraits with my 85mm lens to allow a certain distance between myself and my subjects but without being clandestinely hidden behind my camera.
Individual photos and found materials are weaved together into colourful narratives. These are juxtaposed with collages of a more serious tone; ephemeral objects lying strewn in the aftermath of violent and bloody demonstrations, presented against backdrops of protest posters and graffiti. The chronological narrative reflects on the various protagonists and contains intentional disruptions.
The series begins with the influx of Mainland Chinese tourists which is associated with the encroachment of Chinese influence and has increased tensions amongst local people. The series moves on to the protest movement spurred on by the introduction of the infamous Extradition Bill.
My intention is to guide the audience through the turbulent times of the year 2019. The variety of collages and the different layers within each of the pictures invite the audience to pause, process the contrasts and reflect on the complexity of the past events and the fragility of freedom.
The visual platform that I have created portrays the duality of a city which has been pulled apart by centuries of struggle waged between East and West and where its citizens stood up for freedom