WAI-YIM WONG, ARTIST
In this last interview of Re-Born, we invited the Hong Kong born French artist Wai-Yim Wong to share her particular experience of confinement in France, being surrounded by artist friends in the artist residency she was in in Toulouse. Let’s discover how she coped with her situation.
Breakthrough + "Re-" : I am very happy to invite you today, Wai-Yim Wong, to participate in an interview for our online platform Breakthrough + "Re." First of all, can you briefly introduce yourself and what activities of yours have been affected by the epidemic or have been canceled?
Wai-Yim Wong: From March to June, I took part in an artist residency in Toulouse. I had intended to bring an exhibition from Hong Kong to Toulouse to participate, and I only completed one conference, after which France was in confinement and all of my exhibition plans were canceled. In addition, there were two study tours for Hong Kong students to Paris this summer, which have also been canceled.
B + R: I understand, it's a shame. What was the name of the exhibition? What about its contents ?
W.-Y. W.: Oh, it was a performance piece completed in mid-February in Victoria Harbor: “Performance Victoria Harbor (2020)” * (1). Hong Kong seemed to be frozen in the cold. There is another work, a series of video works shot on the night of Valentine's Day on February 14 at Central Hong Kong. Throughout the video there was only a slight change in the image, which seemed to be still at first glance. The image on the screen seems like it's a photo. Under a single objective, the city is almost crystallised. I call it: "Frozen" or "Being Frozen".
B + R: Oh, that's very nice. What motivated you to bring these two works of art to France to present them to the public?
W.-Y. W.: For me, Hong Kong's recent role in the world has suddenly become indicative of the international situation.
B + R: Why?
W.-Y. W.: Because at the beginning of February, there are a lot of people in Hong Kong who wore a mask. I read news that told the truth of the epidemic was engineered by the government * (2) (3). What happened in Hong Kong, I would turn them into works, like a revealer, to show the side that the French might not see. A French journalist asked me the question: "Can the Hong Kongers save the world?" I replied, "There can't only be Hong Kongers saving the world, everyone has their responsibilities. What the people of Hong Kong have done seems to be revealing, showing the world the true face of authoritarianism." Although my plans are not going well, I was able to do a lot of things that were not expected.
B + R: For example? Can you share with us these unexpected things?
W.-Y. W.: For example, in Toulouse, I published a booklet on the struggle in Hong Kong with very detailed content, just like a guide. Then I wrote a huge banner in Chinese and French and hung it on a bridge on the Toulouse highway. My French friends were impressed. Other than that, because of the confinement, there are only seven people in the art village, and we have been cooking every day and taking pictures of the dishes, and we want to make a cookbook called "MIx'art Kitchen". Then, during the confinement period, I forced six male friends, artists in the residence, to watch the Korean Romantic Drama "Crash Landing on Me" with me. There was a reply in the Korean Drama saying: "There is an Indian proverb: the wrong train could lead you to a better destination." Now it is exactly like that. The things that initially had to be done weren't done, and the things that weren't meant to be done got done, and it's better and happier than expected. It's life !
B + R: Indeed, life is like that, there will always be a lot of unexpected things. I am honored to have the opportunity to have a conversation with you, Wai-Yim. Thank you.
W.-Y. W.: Thanks!
This interview was collected by Yannie Hung in French.
Translation to English by Anna Lataillade.