This programme of 8 selected works by 8 Sino diasporic, queer and cross-generational artists is curated by queer Asian artist Whiskey Chow. It explores displacement, death and in-betweenness, and shows their different approaches to self-empowerment and explorations into a sense (or no sense) of belonging.
All share International background and diasporic experience, and offer an opportunity for us to reflect on: when living in the west what is one’s relationship with Chinese cultural heritage, what does privileged international mobility bring, and what alternative futures are made possible when they as beings sit outside the social norm in the East.
Each hold the status of being in-between, and their work raises interesting questions about identity from a historical, social, cultural, and political perspective. They confront cultural taboo, they play with stereotype and claim back the gaze, they visualize the non-binary identity by mastering their digital body, they create their own narrative and agency for placing memories, death and themselves. They can be the ghost, they can be the god(dess), they are going back into ancient Chinese myth, and they are going forward to the imaginary future. For them, time travelling is a way to create their own queer reality, escaping and going beyond the ‘here’ and ‘now’.
From othered digitalized body to othered live body; from Western pop culture to Chinese historical dramas; from New York, London, Paris, Berlin, to Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong; from their apartment to your computer screen. Welcome to the journey to a Sino Queer Planet with Whiskey Chow!
Is There Anything Specific You Want Me To Tell You About?
Yau Ching (游靜) / 1991 / 12min / English / Chinese Subtitles
Loosely structured as a letter home, a “writer” explicates the longings, nostalgia and regrets that exile, even voluntary exile, produces. B. Ruby Rich, writing in The Village Voice, states, “A subtle answer to travelogue mentalities… turns the tables on the tourists in their native land and reflects on the strangeness of the self, the other, and even its own attempt to communicate between cultures.”
Yau Ching (游靜) / 1999 / 12 min / English / Chinese Subtitles
I’m Starving is an erotic love tale between a ghost and a woman who share a small apartment in New York’s Chinatown. The ghost who eats paper money and Chinese takeout menus contrasts starkly with the woman who thrives on instant ramen noodles; both, haunted by their landlord, decide eventually to invent a future together.
OHYUNG: now i close my eyes the world i see is so beautiful
April Lin (林森) / 2020 / 3 mins 45 sec / Cantonese & Mandarin / English and Chinese Subtitles
“now i close my eyes the world i see is so beautiful” samples lines from the Taiwanese New Wave film Yi Yi, and those borrowed words, those intergenerational whisperings in Chinese dialect, had me pondering at how ancestors and descendants create bridges — across time, and if you’re diasporic, across global space. These bridges feel all too easily invisible to me, but what would it look like if we were strolling on them? What if we jumped off? Would we create another bridge, or open up a new dimension?
In Virtual Return You (Can’t) Dehaun
Yarli Alison (林雅莉) / 2021 / 24 mins 18 sec / Cantonese & English / English and Chinese Subtitles
In Virtual Return We (can’t) Dehaunt is a multi-channel moving-image work by Yarli Allison. It traces the real life stories of four queer Hong Kong (trans)migrants by reconstructing their nostalgic homes in virtual reality (VR), that draws attention to diasporic narratives and cultural archives through the process of cognitively metaphorical ‘returns’.
Lu Yang (陸揚) / 2013 / 11 mins 20 sec / English and Chinese Subtitles
Uterus Man is a sort of superhero; in Lu Yang’s words, ‘The shape of the female uterus resembles the outline of a person standing straight with her arms open wide.’ In the design of Uterus Man, the body armour and other elements correspond to parts of the uterus. They are a superhero with special powers and appears to be a man, but the source of these powers is part of the uniquely female reproductive system. This contradiction makes Uterus Man asexual.
He has a variety of unique kill moves, some of which have to do with genes and genetic attributes. He can convert enemies into a weaker species, infect them with genetic diseases and change their gender.
Dreams, Butterfly Boy Dreams (Genesis)
Mathis Zhang (張杭) / 2019 / 7 mins / Chinese (Mandarin) and English / English
Dreams, Butterfly Boy Dreams is a journey of identity exploration. It is a dream about gender fluidity and non-binary thinking. Mathis discovers their gender identity throughout their cultural backgrounds and cross-culture life experiences, using diverse resources, ancient stories, philosophy with subversive interpretation to develop their own God in their deep soul. It is moral support, a provocation and a personal protestation for LGBTQ+ community rights in contemporary oriental cultural and political environments.
The Glamorous Boys of Tang
Sui Hui-Yu (蘇匯宇) / 2018/ 14 mins 55 sec
(Content Warning: The following video contains material of nudity, blood and violence that may be uncomfortable or traumatizing to some audiences)
In 1985, two years before the end of Taiwan’s martial law period, the renowned poet and screenwriter Chui Kang-Chien’s (邱剛健) Tang Chao Chi Li Nan was first screened in Taiwan. The film is a homoerotic fantasy, and was therefore not well received due to the conservative atmosphere at the time. The film’s first scene is an inexplicable exorcism ceremony which includes dancing. Next, two pretty boys appear, and when their eyes meet, the scene is suffused with their mutual fascination. The plot also includes disturbing killings, death, and orgies accompanied by dissonant sound effects made with a synthesizer, bizarre and gaudy set design, and ill considered costumes. The combined effect is something like a cult film. Comparing the film to the script held in the Taiwan Film Institute archives, it is obvious that the film has been heavily edited or many sequences could not be depicted in detail. Perhaps the filmmakers could not fully present the radicalism and passion of the screenplay due to budget restrictions, censorship, or marketing concerns. More than thirty years later, with new funding and film technology, Su Huiyu has re-created the film to call together the differently gendered bodies and subcultures of Taiwan’s diverse society.
Yu Cheng-Ta and Ming Wong (余政達 & 黃漢明) / 2017/ 10 mins 22 sec/ Chinese (Mandarin) / Chinese and English Subtitles
In the 10-minute video, the two cis-male dress up as the flamboyant goddess duo Watermelon Sisters to distribute inclusive love in the human world through dance and rap performances. Referencing Chinese historical dramas, ancient Chinese myth, Western drag culture and queer night life scene, they create iconic yet ironic images and use the watermelon as a metaphor to suggest queer (juicy) desire and fluidity.