Hong Kong art spaces closed in solidarity with protests over a controversial extradition law.
A group of protesters in Hong Kong on June 12, 2019. Photo by Geovien So/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.
About 100 arts institutions throughout Hong Kong, including commercial galleries, went on strike today in protest of the proposed changes to Hong Kong’s extradition law. The Hong Kong Artists Union published an open letter saying that the “bill, if passed, risk[s] seriously eroding the freedom of expression on which the work of artists and cultural workers of all disciplines depend. It also undermines the city's reputation and credibility as an international art hub where ideas flow freely.” The art space strike was organized in solidarity with the protests that are currently unfolding throughout the city.
The Hong Kong Pavilion at the Venice Biennale joined the strike and closed its doors today, becoming one of the most high-profile exhibition spaces to participate in the protests. A photo posted to Facebook by Christina Li, who curated the pavilion’s exhibition of works Shirley Tse, shows a note that reads in Italian and English: “Due to unforeseen circumstances, the exhibition ‘Shirley Tse: Stakeholders, Hong Kong in Venice’ will be closed on June 12, 2019. Please excuse us for the inconvenience.”
Li told the South China Morning Post:
Shirley and I respect people’s right to strike [. . .] We asked the three staff on duty at the pavilion and it became clear that we won’t have the manpower to keep the pavilion open today
Among the commercial galleries in Hong Kong closing in protest were Simon Lee, Ben Brown Fine Arts, Gallery Exit, Karin Weber Gallery, and Galerie Ora-Ora.