“Insult to the country”: Hong Kong targets art deemed critical of China

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“The government should now form a committee to review all of these works of art,” Ms. Yung said in an interview, to make sure they meet the museum’s “ethical standards”.

In a statement, M + said it would comply with the law while “maintaining the highest level of professional integrity”. He added that the museum could not display all of its collections when it opened and “does not intend” to show Mr. Ai’s photograph in Tiananmen then.

For artists, their lingering fears have turned into a more tangible threat.

Even before the Safety Act, filmmaker Evans Chan knew that some thought his work was too provocative. A Hong Kong venue in 2016 canceled the screening of a documentary it made about the 2014 protests, citing a desire to remain “non-partisan”. Last year, he completed a sequel, only to cut a stage for the Hong Kong audience that presented China’s national anthem; a new law prohibited disrespecting the song.

Yet, Chan said, the security law was a “watershed moment”. He had planned to make a third film on Hong Kong’s struggle for democracy. But he’s not sure if he could find people to participate or places to show it – not just in Hong Kong but overseas, in places with ties to China.

“We come to a point to ask, what kind of space is global capitalism left?” he said. “Where is China located? What is the place of artistic expression from and about Hong Kong? “

Others urged artists to experiment with the space that remains. Clara Cheung, who runs an arts education space, said she has been promoting projects such as community murals or a map of heritage buildings in Hong Kong. While not explicitly political, they could encourage openness and civic engagement.

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