"Nothing Ever Happened"
Keywords: documentation, human rights, memory
Last September, I went to London to pursue my studies and left my home town Hong Kong. During that period, a lot of protests and changes happened in Hong Kong including the implementation of National Security Law. At the same time, I could only witness others from my homeland sacrificing themselves for the future of us from miles away. I thereby decided to document the changes as a way to re-participate in the social movement when I returned.
The project started with observations of the cityscapes after the social movement in 2019-2020. There is no physical protest anymore, nor Lennon Wall or poster. Brick pavement replaced with concrete, glass railing becoming metal railing, and traces of protest art on the wall, are subtle ruins that still survive and tell us that the freedom of demonstration and expression once existed in this city.
I began filming different individuals' interactions with these ruins in the city, so as to portray people's personal feelings through filming their action from a third person point of view. It was also meant to be a search for personal identity in the post-NSL period which we may not realize in daily lives.
After all the implementation of the national security law (NSL), Hong Kong is never the same as before. It is no longer a free city with a lot of self censorship and arrests. The core values of Hong Kong are evolving whereas Hong Kongers could hardly locate their identities.
On 28th February, 2021, 47 former opposition lawmakers and activists were charged with conspiring to subvert state power under Hong Kong’s national security law(NSL) over their roles in an un-official primary run-off election. This intensifies the white terror in Hong Kong. The violation of NSL including secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces are punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison. In order to have full control, the new security office is set up by the Beijing Government directly, judges to hear national security cases are also directly appointed by the Chief Executive, and these trials could even be heard behind closed doors.
Therefore, the project evolves with the situation. With the threat of being accused, it is no longer possible to create sensitive content nor suggest anti-government actions. Thus, I re-examine the footage taken in the past few months and ended the project by deleting my footage.
Accelerating numbers of people arrested has shown the Hong Kong Government is turning into an authoritarian regime. The erasure of one's memory of the past becomes a dominant way to survive in Hong Kong and the identity of 'Hongkongers' may not exist anymore in the near future. The development of the project itself demonstrates the process of change when Hong Kong is becoming a brave new world.