School of Business researchers’ image selected for exhibition

Posted by pm357 at Nov 22, 2017 10:20 AM |
Images taken of Hong Kong’s protest Umbrella Movement by researchers at the University of Leicester’s School of Business have been selected to be displayed at the Images of Research Exhibition taking place on 5 December at Queen’s Hall at the University of Leicester Student’s Union.
School of Business researchers’ image selected for exhibition

Protest Art for Change, Hong Kong

Dr George Patsiaouras, Lecturer in Marketing and Consumption at the School of Business, led the research alongside his colleague Dr William Green, Associate Professor in Innovation, Operations and Knowledge Management at the School of Business and Dr Anastasia Veneti from Bournemouth University and the subsequent entry in to the University’s research images competition. The images are of the Umbrella Movement’s protests that they took whilst on a Distance Learning trip to Hong Kong. The research conducted whilst on the trip has been published online first in Marketing Theory: Patsiaouras, G., Veneti, A., & Green, W. (2018). Marketing, art and voices of dissent: promotional methods of protest art by the 2014 Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement. Marketing Theory.

George explains why they wanted to research the protest movement in the first place, “From the squares of Athens and Cairo to the streets of Seattle and Hong Kong, the number of social movements has increased exponentially over the last 30 years. More and more individuals decide to join or support a social movement in order to express their concerns, feelings and common views towards environmental justice, oppression and inequality amongst others.

“Regarding the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement, we have been very interested in the fact that protesters’ innovation, creativity, emotional attachment and collectivity were expressed through artistic installations, collaborative art projects and peaceful forms of protesting. Contrary to public perceptions of urban protest camps portraying them as arenas of violence and confrontation, our research at the 2014 Hong Kong Umbrella Movement indicates that protest camps can transform the city into an open space of creative resistance and massive arts participation.”

The Hong Kong Umbrella Movement managed to receive worldwide media attention and forms of imaginative protest art by the Movement travelled throughout the world and have even been exhibited in prestigious arts institutions. For example protesters’ artwork was displayed at the ‘Disobedient Objects’ exhibition at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and the exhibition aimed to show how collective creativity and political activism challenge standard ideas and concepts related to art and design. Widespread attention and enthusiasm around the Umbrella Movement’s protest art was expressed also amongst social media users. Taking into account that Hong Kong is one of Asia’s financial, cultural and economic centres, the occupation of the city’s main arteries and avenues by thousands of protesters for almost 80 days was a seminal event which has been approached and discussed from political, economic and social angles.

George and Will analysed how protesters promoted and communicated their ideas through collaborative protest art which managed to engage and mobilize thousands of individuals around the world.

George added: “The photo works as a collage and shows how urban space was transformed into a large arts collaborative canvas where thousands of protesters, citizens and tourists participated in collaborative arts projects. You can see both small artistic installations, like a protest tent travelling to Europe, with dozens of written messages by anonymous Hong Kong protesters and citizens. The photo also shows the John Lennon Umbrella Movement Wall, which was spontaneously created by a group of social activists who gave colourful post-its to tourists, visitors and protesters and asked them to write their thoughts, perceptions and attitudes towards the social movement. In a few days, the wall turned into an artistic mosaic including 10,000 sticky notes with messages of solidarity from both tourists and locals. Finally, we can see the contrast between Hong Kong’s skyscraper architecture on the background and how the colourful and artistic protest camps managed to aesthetically transform Hong Kong’s urban space into an artistic arena characterised by improvisation, openness and public participation.”

Will and George spent a week in the city collecting visual data for their research project. Overall, they took more than 300 photographs from the protest camps and the displayed protest art. The visual element of the competition offered them the opportunity to convey to the wider public their impressions and thoughts on the innovation and creativity of a social movement.

Will said: “We suggest that, in an increasingly turbulent world, peaceful and collective protest art has the capacity to empower, unify and motivate people. We are really excited about the festival and the opportunity to show – in visual form – our research findings to the world!”

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