Opacity of Dreams
"The Opacity of Dreams" examines the bifurcation of cultural identity and post-coloniality on the eve of Britain's handover of Hong Kong, my birthplace, back to China after 155 years of colonial rule. The English language is used as a metaphor for the power relationships between colonizer, colonized, and post-colonial. The installation presents literally layers of text on translucent vellum to enter into the layered relationships, including historical treaties, narratives, and a lexicon of simple vocabulary that connote deeper colonial relationships through their juxtapositions. Text is also deployed poetically on 50 translucent undershirts and handkerchiefs, to evoke the visceral sense of chafing inbetweenness, loss, and tenuous belonging. Composed spatially in book-like sections, the installation includes a Prologue, three chapters, and an Epilogue.
At once elegy and exposé, "The Opacity of Dreams" reflects on how history and politics translate into the daily lives of individuals. It is also a double narrative: of the colonized in the language of the colonizer, and of the immigrant in the language of her adopted country.
Mixed media installation, dimensions variable. Vellum, paper, beeswax, graphite, Chinese calligraphy workbooks, Chinese-English dictionaries and lexicons, recipe book pages, cotton, steel cable, clips, color pencil, steel, postage stamps.1997