Hong Kong, 2019-2021
Zine, Ho Tam, Hotam Press, 46 pgs., hotampress.com, etsy.com/shop/HotamPress, $12
This modestly presented but powerful zine from Vancouver’s Hotam Press collects slogans and phrases from Hong Kong’s anti-extradition movement, the democratic uprising that began in 2019, but which has been darkly suppressed by China-aligned authorities during the pandemic. Ho Tam’s zine captures the grassroots nature of the movement by harnessing the impact of both protest signs wielded in the streets and hashtags spread across social media. 23 of the slogans used by participants in the uprising are collected here.The zine’s simple appearance belies its intensity. A blank, black cardstock cover encloses golden rod pages, all with rounded corners. A circular hole in the bottom right corner of thecover reveals a small image of a Hong Kong orchid tree flower beneath, the symbol of HongKong and the image on its flag. It is an understated preview of the slogans and stories collected within, presented as a sort of typology. Each of the 23 slogans is given in English translation ona left facing page with a short explanation of the slogan’s history and context. Then on each right facing page is the slogan in its original Cantonese, either handwritten, or in stylized digital font–some that were held aloft on sheets of cardboard, others that were dispersed across social media. The stories and contextual information accompanying the slogans highlights nuances of the movement. Through these simple but charged words, one can sense how HongKongers holding divergent beliefs spoke to each other about the response to crackdowns by the Chinese government, for example. One feels how the uprising itself intensified and was suppressed. This is a beautiful, inspiring zine, and a valuable addition to a large body of zines issued around the anti-extradition movement in Hong Kong.