Mo Lei Tau and Egao: Fun and politics in the structure of feeling of Hong Kong youth

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By Hoiying Ng

The figure above is an example of Egao in Hong Kong. The original design on the top was created for the official campaign of the 2012 Hong Kong election reforms. The government promoted its position as ‘Act Now’, to garner public support for the draft plan for the reforms. Because some Hong Kongers felt that the plan was actually a step backwards rather than the democratic reforms they were presented to be, an Egao picture was created as seen in the bottom picture. In this picture the original design of the official campaign was adopted and then re-created to present an opposite message in a vivid manner. The Chinese characters (the slogan) had been changed from ‘Act Now’ to ‘All Wrong’. The picture went viral on social media, and prints also appeared on the streets. Why has this cultural practice known as Egao become so popular in Hong Kong? What does it signify for Hong Kong youth? How does it express their structure of feeling? And can serious political issues really be turned into fun, and vice versa? Or can we do it ‘just for fun’? Continue reading

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Subbacultcha! – a fungi process: How space is experienced within a youth subculture

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By Marije Peute

‘It’s about this permeation of… light. A sort of irradiating and unstoppable expulsion of darkness, or something. I don’t think that the only way to read the world in 2014 is as a fucking endless cycle of doom. That’s not how I want to work, you know.’ (Ben Frost)

The best ideas occur on surprising moments. Like when I figured out the main concept to connect all the pieces of my research together. I was writing for this paper in a café in Amsterdam while observing the hipness of it. In this case hip means that the space was full of natural colours, garments and textures. Every object was something in its own, probably handmade or at least old. The lights were of a designer sort. A girl walked in and caught my eye. She was neutrally dressed but still fashionable and good-looking. Her hair was short like a nun and she just wore a short black skirt, a white t-shirt, some sneakers and a denim jacket. Her appearance was, despite the neutral look, very strong. When I left to do some shopping, I saw her again. This time it took me much longer to notice her. This wasn’t because of my absentmindedness, but because she looked different in this space than the one I had seen her in before. The first space seemed to contain certain hipness in itself and everyone who could look slightly hip or fashionable got an extra glow of hipness when entering it. Outside on the street, blended in with all kinds of different looks, this glow disappears and someone returns to being normal. My point is that on this afternoon I discovered how important space is in the way people look and feel. Space is defined by the meanings that are attached to it (Navaro-Yashin 2007). This is certainly so for the subcultural spaces defined by Subbacultcha! Continue reading

Fuck Art? Street art lost in transition

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By Ed Little

Abstract: This paper delves deep into the process of ‘commercialization’ of street art while looking to question why outsiders use the label ‘commercialization’. It not only garners the opinions of Amsterdam’s most renowned street artists but also tracks the history of street art in the city and its interconnectedness with graffiti. Through contrasting the life worlds of street art and fine art, it illustrates how subcultural misperceptions originate from different value systems. Contemporary fine art strives towards profit and success (with a tinge of elitism thrown in there as well) while graffiti writers and street artists (at least at first) tend to thrive for fame and reputation. Only once street art becomes commercial do definitions and labels begin to overlap as street art starts to weigh in on the fine art commercial space. However, while street art is transitioning into new spaces and market places, this transition in reality is much more natural and organic than presupposed and thus should be seen as a positive abridgement as the subcultural life world takes its first steps into the mainstream world. Continue reading

The world of vintage bloggers

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By Stevie Michelle Greenleaf

Abstract: The vintage scene has exploded in recent decades, riding a wave of fascination with many desirable aspects of the past. Some of the most dedicated followers of this trend are vintage bloggers, who devote their time and resources to creating an accurate revival of the previous decades. In this paper, I question where this motivation for living a ‘vintage-lifestyle’ comes from, and whether it arises as a response to disappointment with aspects of modern life. Through in-depth interviews with a selection of such bloggers, and an analysis of their online posts, I seek to identify the extent to which the emerging vintage scene is fuelled by a sense of ‘loss’ for a time gone by, exploring: the appeal of vintage; sentiments of nostalgia; the search for authenticity; resistance to mass consumerism; and technological anachronisms within the subculture. Continue reading