Graffiti and street signs have been an essential component of Hong Kong's long-standing anti-government protests. In December, a group of 18 designers held a joint exhibition entitled Yellow objects (“Yellow objects”).
The exhibition shows 18 posters with the theme “a yellow object is…”, and provides a creative space for participants to draw their own version of the “yellow and black” street signs to display them alongside the other works that make up the exhibition.
In Hong Kong, the term “yellow object” became an internet meme after a group of riot police was filmed kicking a protester in a dark alley of Yuen Long on September 21, 2019. The next day, the superintendent of the police operation, Vasco Gareth Llewellyn Williams, told reporters that the video “shows what a policeman looks like kicking a yellow object on the ground.” A journalist rebuked him: “It's a human, not an object!”
The incident is another example of the dehumanization of protesters by police forces, who have come to refer to protesters as “cockroaches” during operations. The groups that support the Government and some media have spread the term in social media. Many have pointed out that these dehumanizing terms could create hostility and incite the police to use violence when faced with peaceful demonstrations.
At the same time, verbal violence against protesters has also inspired a lot of street art. The urban landscape has brought together the 18 graphic designers in this exhibition:
Inspired by this emerging, painfully beautiful cityscape, 18 graphic designers speak up with the language of visual arts, in the format of poster in yellow and black.
The exhibition “YELLOW OBJECTS” is a mockery of the brutal and ruthless authority that refers human being as object, and a reminder to defend and uphold human dignity. (…) We hope that the audience could bring the message back to their community, by putting up these posters in their neighborhood. It will be a perfect demonstration of our outcry for freedom, that will not be silenced by violence.
Inspired by this emerging, painfully beautiful urban landscape, 18 graphic designers speak in the language of visual arts with the yellow and black poster format.
The exhibition “YELLOW OBJECTS” is a mockery of the brutal and ruthless authority that refers to a human being as if it were an object, and a reminder of the need to defend and preserve human dignity. (…) We hope that the public takes this message to their community, that they put these signs in their neighborhood. It will be the perfect demonstration of our cry for freedom, which will not be silenced by violence.
The exhibition can be seen in the Openground Cafe from November 21 to December 8, 2019. All works are exempt from copyright and can be downloaded for distribution.