Activists “hijacked” Art Basel Hong Kong over the weekend by installing four miniature “Lady Liberty” protest statues around the exhibition.

Lady Liberty statue art basel
Photo: Lady Liberty HK.

The “Lady Liberty HK” Facebook page said on Saturday that the tiny statues were titled There’s No Art Without Freedom, adding that art fans should “go see it before it’s gone.”

Lady Liberty statue art basel
Photo: Lady Liberty HK.

A four-metre version of Lady Liberty – which depicts a protester in a gas mask, goggles and a helmet – was installed atop Kowloon’s Lion Rock in October 2019. It was toppled days later as the city was rocked with months-long pro-democracy protests and unrest.

Lady Liberty democracy statue hong kong
Photo: Lady Liberty/LIHKG.

The Art Basel versions were 3D printed and 4.5 cm tall. It is unclear if the statues were discovered or how long they were allowed to remain.

Lady Liberty statue art basel
Photo: Lady Liberty HK.

A Facebook statement by the activists said they wanted to bring the voices of Hongkongers to the world: “On one hand, the Hong Kong/Chinese communist regime is more tyrannical than ever, the freedom of the city’s residents are narrowing by the day; on the other hand, the rich and famous still linger in art shows, galleries are earning an exorbitant amount of money selling artworks, as if there are 2 parallel worlds in Hong Kong.”

Scaled-down event

The 2021 edition of Art Basel Hong Kong took place at the Convention & Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai last week.

Lady Liberty statue art basel
Photo: Lady Liberty HK.

The event was scaled down owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. Some gallerists interacted with VIP buyers via private “hologram viewing sessions” whilst international buyers were shown around via video call.

The show involved over 100 galleries from 23 countries and territories.

art central basel
Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The original statue had an umbrella in one hand and a flag proclaiming “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” in the other. It was often seen at protests, and has – more recently – been spotted in Taiwan. The slogan, meanwhile, has been deemed “illegal” by the Hong Kong government after the national security law was rolled out last June.

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Tom founded Hong Kong Free Press in 2015 and is the editor-in-chief. In addition to editing, he is responsible for managing the newsroom and company - including fundraising, recruitment and overseeing HKFP's web presence and ethical guidelines.

He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He previously led an NGO advocating for domestic worker rights, and has contributed to the BBC, Deutsche Welle, Al-Jazeera and others.