Chinese dissident cartoonist Badiucao has unveiled a flag design that he hopes will “become a new symbol of Hong Kong’s freedom and resistance.”
The rainbow-coloured design was inspired by the “Lennon Wall” message boards that have sprung up in communities across Hong Kong since June.
“This flag is inspired directly by visual experience from the Lennon Wall in Hong Kong. It consists of 96 randomly allocated colour squares which [symbolise] the colour post-notes on the walls,” the artist wrote.
“Number 96 symbolises the year before the handover in 1997. Every colour on the flag is a different voice. And every individual voice deserves its place in Hong Kong.”
The Chinese-Australian satirist has been an outspoken voice in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, creating cartoons that respond to the headlines of the day.
Last November, he was forced to cancel his debut Hong Kong art exhibition out of safety concerns, though he has since chosen to unmask himself as a gesture of defiance. An Australian documentary about Badiucao was broadcast three months ago, on the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
Discussing his new design, the exiled artist said that the Lennon Wall was one of the strongest visual motifs to come out of the anti-extradition bill movement: “It combines perfectly with street art, free speech and the resistance to communist tyranny.”
The artist said he deliberately chose a “universal design with abstract colour and form,” instead of pre-existing iconography about Hong Kong such as the bauhinia.
The flag should be a bridge to link Hong Kong’s protest movement to people with different cultural backgrounds, and become an inspiration worldwide, he added.
“My biggest dream is to see this flag flying everywhere in Hong Kong for the fight of freedom,” Badiucao wrote.
Hong Kong’s anti-extradition law movement, which has lasted for just over three months, has seen several flags fall in and out of fashion.
Protesters on July 1 stormed the legislature, defaced Hong Kong’s official emblem and unfurled a colonial flag. Demonstrators have also thrown the Chinese national flag into the sea, irking Beijing. And some protesters have taken to brandishing a “black bauhinia flag” – a monochrome version of the Hong Kong regional flag, but with its symbolic flower bloodied and wilting.
Badiucao said that the black flag is a “courageous, rebellious and powerful icon” but he wanted to draw on more hopeful themes.
“In my opinion, a successful political movement will need help from the powers of rebellion as well as hope. A more colourful and delightful visual icon can accumulate hope much more effectively,” he wrote.
“That is why the vibrantly coloured Lennon Wall Flag design can be a great supplement to the black flag. The simple beauty of it could win Hong Kong more support around the world.”
At a Melbourne event earlier this month, Badiucao gave the first Lennon Wall Flag as a gift to Hong Kong singer and activist Denise Ho, who also helped with the design.
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