RIOT! is Connection Arts Space’s current digital group exhibition being delivered daily via Instagram. The exhibition carves out a space for our artists and the audience to explore various themes such as philosophy, social issues, politics, spirituality and religion, while seeking to elevate voices that are typically pushed to the margins. We asked participating artists one simple but complex question:
WHY DO YOU RIOT?
From the ‘Hong Kong’ photo series
14 Photographic prints, taken on Ilford hp5, 23×33 inches
Especially for artists, the concept of rioting is important. To use our platforms and mediums to tackle important issues and topics, to inspire and encourage those who believe their voices aren’t heard.
As a woman of colour in a predominantly white country, my voice gets spoken over, my opinions get overlooked. My art stems from wanting to give other POCs motivation to speak up for what they believe in and talk about their past experiences no matter the situation they are in. A lot of my work expresses the experiences from racism, sexism or misogyny.
I want to leave a message for those who read this: Your art is important, your words are heard, keep creating for what you believe in.
The title of the exhibition, “RIOT!” is what caught my attention. As a Hong Konger living in Sydney, I get a chance to speak up about social issues happening in my home, whereas friends and family back home aren’t able to. Many of us have a responsibility to raise awareness and educate others on the social and political issues that is not being talked about or correctly understood.
I RIOT for my people who have lost their identity as an effect of colonialization.
I RIOT for the people whose voices are taken away or constantly being muted.
I RIOT for the people who are too weak to fight our fight but still want to fight.
I RIOT for the people who didn’t have anyone that looked like them in the industry that they want to be in.
I RIOT for the people who come home with a heavy chest after a long day of brushing off racist remarks.
I RIOT for the people who are still struggling with the pain of trying to assimilate when they crave to just be themselves.
I RIOT for the people who constantly feel the need to fight so that they can earn their place.
I RIOT for the people who need to keep their mouth shut and hide their true selves, and for my brown and blacked-skinned brothers and sisters who have to paint themselves white just to ensure they still able to make it through the next day.
I RIOT for my ancestors that died in order to achieve freedom.
I RIOT for my immigrant parents who had to uproot and start from nothing in a foreign land.
I RIOT for my siblings who continually fight to have the life they want.
I RIOT for my friends who are still finding their purpose in life.
I RIOT for the struggles that I and a lot of people face.
But I don’t RIOT loudly – I do it sneakily, subtly – in a way that I know will creep into your minds without you realizing it.
Just like flicking a seed in a dry looking soil – thinking it’ll never grow ..
When in truth, it is a fertile soil that can grow so many beautiful things.
Most of all, I RIOT because I am tired of wishing to see someone like me to tell my stories and struggles.
I RIOT because I need to be the representation that I and many others need.
So that is why I riot, and this is why I wanted to be part of this exhibition.
I want you to hear me, I want you to allow my works to creep into your mind.
I want you to take a couple of steps in my shoes.
I want you to feel part of my pain and hope.