Arts as Public Pedagogy

By: Kelly Ka Lai Chan  

This paper situates my PhD video ethnography within the emerging protest culture of transitional Hong Kong. From both a filmmaking and queer perspective, I will trace an emergent contemporary Hong Kong subjectivity from the British handover (1997), through The Umbrella Movement (2014) through to the current anti-extradition protests, all of which uniquely give new momentum to creativity, activism and the development of localism. Based in an activist call for leaderless organisation, and de-centralised social media communication to confront an "identity crisis" and resist further erosion of democratic autonomy, Hong Kong has used creative arts and activism to (trans)form a new subjectivity. I take up Chen Kuan-Hsing’s call that decolonising work “has to proceed from the inner logic of the colonized social formation” (2010, p. X) in order to overcome multiple layers and histories of imperialism, and through visual ethnographic attention to artists, activists and queer radicals, my study outlines the initial findings of the research project which incorporates ongoing political confrontations and looks at the public pedagogical value of artistic activism and the emerging Hong Kong that needs them. This paper investigates how artist-activists as public pedagogues inform a subjectivity that is contemporary, globally-focused, locally-identified, and unique to Hong Kong. In its method, design and conceptual frameworks, this Asia As Method-linked study by me as insider/outsider investigator seeks to put Chen’s theoretic to work on the streets of today’s Hong Kong.

Art, Public Pedagogy, Art as Activism, Subjectivity, Hong Kong
2020 Special Focus - Against the Grain: Arts and the Crisis of Democracy
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Kelly Ka Lai Chan

PhD Candidate, School of Education, Australia