During Nov. 21-Dec. 1, 2019, a group of 18 Hong Kong graphic designers held an exhibition titled “Yellow Objects.” The theme of the 18 finish-it-yourself posters was “Yellow object is ____________” where visitors were encouraged to fill in the blank themselves.
“Yellow object” became an internet meme after a policeman was caught on a widely circulated video kicking a pro-democracy protester in a dark alley on Sept. 21, 2019. At the police briefing the following day, the police superintendent said the officer kicked a “yellow object on the ground.” At that point, a reporter interjected, “He is a human, not an object!”
“It’s a communist tactic: You dehumanize, you demonize, you reduce your enemies to nothing and then you attack,” said one of the pro-democracy legislators.
The pro-democracy protests began as peaceful marches in March 2019 after the publication of the 2019 Hong Kong extradition bill. By October, property damage and throwing objects at police had become part of the exercise. So were street posters and graffiti. On the other hand, police also had stepped up arrests and use of force. Distrust of the police force escalated. And the growing animosity from either side showed no signs of abating.
The 18 yellow and black posters of the exhibit mock the brutal and ruthless police reference of a human being as an “object,” and serve as a reminder to defend and uphold human dignity. They are all copyright-free for download and distribution. The designers hope the audience would bring the message back to their community by putting up these posters in their neighborhoods. “It will be a perfect demonstration of our outcry for freedom, that will not be silenced by violence, “they said.
An online post by Openground Café where the exhibit was held, read
18 anonymous designers, 18 voices, 18 posters, both objects and not only objects. Graphic Design is a container, printed as a poster, and becomes organic. Every Poster of the exhibition is available for free of charge, and everyone is invited to share and spread the message together in their respective communities to infect more people. This is just a demonstration that people call for freedom, not violence can be put out.”