Urban Pedagogies of Resistance in Apocalyptic Hong Kong
The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified existing inequalities and highlighted multiple apocalyptic conditions affecting many different people and other-than-humans. At the same time, the pandemic has made it difficult to mobilise and make visible collective action in public, which has required artist-activists to devise new and diverse strategies to identify, occupy, and refuse spaces of publicness. Hong Kong’s unique urban and socio-political conditions continue to coevolve rapidly with the pandemic and intensifying political oppression. Following the Umbrella Movement (2014) and the ‘Be Water’ Movement (2019-2020), the current COVID-19 era forms the third key turn in the development of public pedagogy at the intersection of art and protest practices in Hong Kong. This paper examines the emerging artistic tactics of creating spaces of publicness as ‘the wild place’ or ‘cracks’ in apocalyptic Hong Kong, through two cases of artistic interventions and interruptions—the Hong Kong Way (August 2019) and #Hijack Art Basel HK (May 2021)—which in Biesta’s (2012) words can act both as a test of and a reminder of publicness. To contest the notion of publicness and Savage’s (2010) multiplicity of publics, we incorporate Harney and Moten’s (2013) conceptualisation of ‘study’ in the undercommons as urban public pedagogies.