“On the white canvases covering the wooden structure of a cellar room (of approximately 10 square meters), I repeatedly wrote in Chinese ‘我要真普選’ (I want real universal suffrage) with willow charcoal made in China.
This slogan has been used widely in Hong Kong during the Umbrella Movement and represents the people’s demand for freedom and democracy. I travelled to Venice when the major occupy site outside Central Government Offices was about to be cleared by police in Hong Kong. A programme of selected video documentaries of or work by artists in Hong Kong themed ‘Performing Civil Struggles: in-between conformity and resistance in Hong Kong (2004-2014)’, curated by me for the VIPAW (Venice International Performance Art Week), was showing in the next room.
As an active participant in the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, my installation/performance manifested not only my confessions of being away, but also my solidarity with other protesters at home, and an intense meditation on a series of civil struggles in decades.
In my live performance on 15 December 2014, when the last major occupy site was being cleared in Causeway Bay, I blindfolded myself with the 5-star flag of PRC and repeatedly wrote the same slogan again on the canvas.
Messy, scribbled or uncontrolled, the blind writing layered the canvases with my mixed feelings about the civil struggles in Hong Kong: devoted and persistent yet vulnerable, isolated or even imprisoned by one’s own promise.
On 18 December 2014, the 6th day of the 2nd VIPAW (Venice International Performance Art Week), I presented a tele-performance through webcasting from Hong Kong. I lind-walked around the Central Government Offices at midnight when there was almost nobody there. After my emotional outbreaks during my performance in Venice, this blind walking took me back to the locale of the protests in the past few months and where the Umbrella Movement originated.
The remoteness of my performance as shown by live-feed video projection on my recurring writings of ‘我要真普選’ (I want real universal suffrage) in Venice corresponded to the emptiness and solitude of the place which had been occupied in the past 3 months and cleared a week ago.
This action also offered me a chance to meditate on the unseen future of the civil struggles in Hong Kong and re-discover the overlooked micro-history on a personal level.”