Activists “hijacked” Art Basel Hong Kong over the weekend by installing four miniature “Lady Liberty” protest statues around the exhibition.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
The 2021 edition of Art Basel Hong Kong took place at the Convention & Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai last week.
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.
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.