CAS Art as Agent: Theory & Awareness

Art Activism & Urban Movement in East Asia

By Lee Chun Fung


This module provides an overview of the dynamic of art and cultural activism throughout East Asia in the past 20 years. It draws attention to the urban problems behind it and, it provides insight into the possible urban change in the near future. Since the 1990s, an era of globalisation and Neoliberalism after the end of the Cold War, East Asia have experienced waves of social and economic transformations as well as rapid urban developments accordingly. This results in urban problems such as social inequality, break down of traditional community living, weakened local identity and threats toward the environment.
Concurrently, since early 2000, movements against globalisation and developmentalism are budding in various cities in East Asia.


A trend is that activists in East Asia develop strategies of resistance from art and cultural perspectives. At the same time, a trans-border exchange network is built among the activist scenes in East Asia region.

In this module, the relation of art and activism in the context of East Asia will be discussed. Thereby, we also draw attention to similarities and differences of art and activism in these regions. Furthermore, we examine the possibilities of trans-border activism and a further understanding of East Asia from that particular perspective.

This programme hopes to provide a scope to examine the cultural politics in East Asia, and its complex relations of geopolitics within this region, as well as the role of art/ artist/ agent intervening in this changing process. We hope to explore these questions from the problematic of inter-local approach, such that a perspective of inter-linking the common social problems could be built up, hence possibilities to go across the borders through intellectual exchange. At the same time, we hope to learn the experience directly from the practitioners in this region, and to review the latest development in East Asia social context from their artistic practice.

Course details

1. Introduction, Politics of Imagining East Asia
2. Hong Kong as Method, Cultural Politics in the Transition of Decolonisation
3. Possibilities of Trans-border Activism, A Study of Sunflower Movement and Umbrella Movement
4. Autonomous Space and Youth Culture Movement in Japan and Korea
5. Art of Urban Resistance in the Post-revolution China

6. Participatory Art in Southeast Asia, under “One Belt One Road”
7. Final Presentation

Module supervisor
LEE Chun Fung, artist, curator and activist. Co-founder of Woofer Ten. Co-director of MAS Art & Society. Lives in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

With guest lecturers

Guests from different regions will share their experiences (present in class or via online-platforms).
Among the guests are experienced artists, activists, curators, organisers and researchers working in East Asia regions.

1. 3 articles: in response to the topics developed in the class
2. A Research Proposal: participants are expected to develop a proposal of research or a proposal of an art project, in an open format, e.g. an art exchange project in East Asia region with a specific theme, or an art action proposal toward specific urban problem in East Asia...etc. It is expected to be presentable in the class or realised in other format, e.g. an online exhibition, or a mini-publication. The participants develop the research proposal prior to the June workshop, revise it during the workshop, and conduct it during or after the workshop.


Seminar & Lecture

2 (E)CTS