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Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you. (Aldous Huxley)

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Wen Yau: Occupy Movement expands imagination, experience of city space

On 25, Nov 2014 | No Comments | In News and Events | By Peter

Dubbed ‘the city of protest’, Hong Kong has seen various demonstrations that effectively engaged a growing number of people and redefine their experiences of using public spaces.

According to Wen Yau from the Academy of Visual Arts, HKBU, civic-led campaigns have negotiated the desired ‘openness and transparency’ as claimed by the government and re-interpreted the site-as-an-open-platform for civil engagement in Hong Kong.

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“For example, the (re-)naming of the plaza outside the Government Offices as ‘Civic Square’, making Tamar Park as an open space for autonomous learning during class boycotts, and camping on the roads during the Occupy movement have opened up our imagination of city space and let us perform our rights to the city in creative ways,” she said.

Occupation is not only a tactic of protest that allows people to voice their demand for democracy; it also facilitates the building of an ideal community by co-living in the site and continuous deliberation, she added.

By performing a high level of self-discipline and mutual support in the non-violent and peaceful protest, people are also demonstrating an ideal humanity in contrast to the frustrating social reality and unequal political system, she noted.

“Such a utopian experience of occupation, I’d argue, is the driving force of the movement even in the face of the local and PRC government’s suppression,” she said.

Wen Yau will present her paper Performing Hong Kong’s Identity: From Civic Square to Occupy Movement – A Spatial Perspective on Social Activism during the XD conference—to be kicked off coming Thursday (27 Nov). Her paper examines how these new spatial experiences have contributed to the building of public sphere in civil society and performativity of the people’s identity in these civil movements.

Designing Experience: ‘The Ballerina on the Elephant’ is a 3-day international conference on experience design (27-29 Nov 2014). Make your booking here.

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