Writing at the End of the History: Reflections on Two Cases of Graffiti Writing in Hong Kong

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This article uses two specific cases of graffiti in contemporary Hong Kong, the “graffiti girl” incident and the work of the “King of Kowloon,” to divulge some of the neglected origins of cultural anxieties in Hong Kong. Using Alexandre Kojève's idea of “the end of history” (1980), the article argues that the two cases combine to unfold the real tension and dilemma of Hong Kong today: a tension not only between a “free” Hong Kong versus a totalitarian PRC but, more acutely, a tension between a Hong Kong that believes it is making/experiencing history and a City that has already passed the end of history. The article illustrates this paradox through an exploration into the relationship between graffiti and graffiti artists on the one hand, and the public, cultural institutions and the authorities, on the other hand. The goal of this essay is to show how aesthetic forms mobilize themselves and illuminate Hong Kong's society attitude towards politics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-166
Number of pages20
JournalPublic Art Dialogue
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • graffiti
  • street art
  • Hong Kong-Mainland tension
  • Ai Weiwei
  • King of Kowloon
  • end of history

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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