Lecturer by Gina Marchetti
Professor at the Department of Comparative Literature, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s 2014 Umbrella Movement, calling for a more open procedure for vetting candidates for its first exercise in universal suffrage in the election of its Chief Executive in 2017, does not have an explicit “feminist” agenda. However, initial research shows that over fifty percent of participants in the movement are female. Although underrepresented in visible leadership roles and in media reports on the demonstrations, women have played an essential part in all aspects of the movement. Moreover, they suffered from sexual harassment by counter-demonstrators intent on intimidating them and infringing on their right to public assembly. As Mirana Sze-to’s preliminary analysis shows, women activists shaped the physical space and quotidian operation of occupying Central, Causeway Bay, and Mongkok in very visible ways—from redecorating public bathrooms and crafting agit-prop artworks to running supplies and operating “democracy” study halls. They drew on various transnational cultural icons and ideas to support their political aims with nods to female artists such as Yoko Ono as well as noticeable ties to global LGBTQ rainbow movements.
During the demonstrations, women media artists took up cameras to record events and document their active participation in the political process. This presentation examines how these filmmakers see themselves as women with cameras observing as well as confronting Hong Kong’s political deadlock in relation to broader questions of the role of women in democratic movements globally. The talk highlights the diversity of the female media artists, coming from North America, Europe, Vietnam, mainland China, and elsewhere, who helped to put the Umbrella Movement on screen for world audiences. Their motion pictures illustrate the transcultural, cosmopolitanism at the root of transnational feminist theory today, and how this plays a critical role in depiction of Hong Kong activism for international audiences.