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Courses of Action

Busy Hands | 心繁手敏

Archive of the People | 人人檔案
2019 -

Video Installation


Busy Hands is an ongoing artistic research project that examines an international exchange education program between Hong Kong and the Philippines during the 60s. The program aimed to gather leaders from labour and trade unions from Asian countries, it served as a platform for labour education, sharing information and knowledge production. The project explores the dynamics of Hong Kong’s participation in the program, which catalyzed or supplied momentum for the subsequent social movement in the colony, the Hong Kong 1967 Leftist Riots.


The phrase “Busy Hands” was found on the education program pamphlet published by The Asian Labor Education Center (ALEC), University of the Philippines (UP). In order to promote the program officially, copies of the pamphlet were sent to selected Asian countries (one copy is currently in holdings at Hong Kong Public Records Office). Hong Kong had been invited since the 1st session and later joined the 4th session in 1961. “Busy Hands” refers to the phenomenon of overworked labour 

due to underdeveloped labour welfare, unionism and affiliated law; on the other hand, the project title metaphorizes various visible and invisible intervention that preached ideologies and initiated social movement during the tumultuous times.


The exhibition features an early stage of the research-in-progress.

Busy Hands是一個進行中的藝術研究項目,作品關注一個60年代期間香港和菲律賓之間的國際交流教育計劃。該計劃旨在發展一個集勞工教育、信息共享和知識生產的平台,以求聚集來自亞洲國家的勞工和工會領導人。這個藝術研究項目探討香港參與該計劃後而產生的變革動力,並催化與供給動力予隨後的殖民地社會運動,即是1967年香港左派暴動。


在菲律賓大學亞洲勞工教育中心(ALEC)出版的勞工教育計劃小冊子中刊登了“Busy Hands”這一詞彙。為了正式推廣該計劃,當時ALEC把小冊子發送至經嚴選的亞洲國家(目前在香港政府檔案處藏有一本)。香港自第一屆講習會開始受到ALEC邀請,後來正式參與於1961年第四屆講習會。“Busy Hands”一方面是指由於勞工福利、工會主義和附屬法律不完善的情況下勞工有過度勞動的現象;另一方面,項目標題隱喻了在動盪時期,各種有形和無形之手干預、傳播意識形態和發動社會運動。



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BUSY HANDS (2019-), publication on demand

A statement captured from the website of International Labour Organization (ILO) 
Work and Art are part of the human condition. From the first time that human beings gathered food, or built themselves shelter, or turned a skin pelt into clothing, work has been an integral part of our lives. And ever since the very first drawings on the walls of caves, we have been using art as a powerful means of expression.

Work is a transformative force in our society, and Art is also a powerful force for change – it inspires, and moves people to act.


工作和藝術是人類生於世間的一部分。 從人類第一次收集食物、或為自己建立住所、或將動物皮毛皮制作衣服,工作一直是我們生活中不可或缺的一部分。 自從人類在洞穴壁上的繪畫第一幅畫,我們一直視藝術為一種強有力的表達方法。


工作在我們社會中一種變革力量,藝術亦締造顛覆性改變的力量 - 它啓發與鼓動人們行動起來。


International Labour Organization (ILO) was established as an agency under the League of Nations (LN) after the First World War. After the Second World War, ILO reached agreement to collaborate on terms with The United Nations (UN) in 1946, it became the first specialized agency after the establishment of UN. Consequently, ILO advocated resolutions on labour welfare and rights in the first Asian Regional Conference in India. Without a doubt, ILO wanted to extend its scope to Asian countries especially to those were still in colonization; it initiated a series of Workers' Education Programmes, and firstly introduced to the Philippines in late 1950s. As a result, Labor Education Centre (LEC) was established at University of The Philippines (UP), pilot programs were offered to local working class and labour unions in 1958. In 1960, LEC evolved into Asian Labor Education Center (ALEC), and the programme was officially expanded into Asian Labor Leadership Institute (ALLI), which covered a wider crowd of stakeholders in Asia, including Japan, South Korea, Ceylon, Malaya, Indonesia, Burma, “Free China” (it refers to “Taiwan”), India, Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan, Cambodia, Laos. The exchange program provided three-month intensive courses that covered democracy and unionism, labour rights, international labour movement, etc.




ALEC - Asian Labour Education Center (亞洲勞工教育中心)

ALLI - Asian Labour Leadership Institute (亞洲勞工領導講習會)

CCP - Chinese Communist Party (中國共產黨)

HKFTU - Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (香港工會聯合會)

ILO - International Labour Organisation (國際勞工組織)

KMT - Kuomintang (國民黨)

LEC  -Labour Education Centre (勞工教育中心)

ROC - Republic of China (中華民國)

PRC - People’s Republic of China (中華人民共和國)

UN -  The United Nations (聯合國)

UP - University of The Philippines (菲律賓大學)

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Video Projection on publications

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