The Haunting of Huli jing
Love Intersections (David Ng, Jen Sungshine) in collaboration with Kendell Yan. Videography by Eric Sanderson.
There is no creature quite as alluring and sinister as the 9-tailed fox spirit, the Huli jing (). In Chinese mythology, the Huli jing is a well known mythological creature, most notable for its ability to acquire human form that is almost always in the image of a beautiful young woman. Today, the popular usage of the term “huli jing” is a pejorative word to describe women who are flirtatious and sexually liberated (similar to “slut”). It is important to point out that the nine-tailed fox spirit of which this term is derived from, is historically genderless (in its animal form) that only takes physical form (gendered) to lure mortals for their essence. The depiction of the fox spirit in historical texts and literature has evolved into a very cemented feminized image in contemporary East Asian popular culture. Similar iterations can be found in Japan (Kitsune), Korea (Kumiho), Vietnam (Hồ Ly Tinh), and in
the West (Succubus).
Through the eyes of the fox spirit, we fuse macabre and East Asian cultural mythos to highlight how a virus-like spread of anti-Asian racism is painfully experienced. What is it about the macabre and sci-fi horror that elicits unsettling feelings of discomfort and fear of infection? Like a mythic story, the virus is personified as a cultural phenomenon of our many realities. The fox spirit emerges from underground and transforms its animal form to human – and according to the origin of the mythical tale, its survival is contingent on accumulating essence through sexual intercourse with mortals, thereby prolonging its magical powers and eventual immortality.
This work was conceptualized prior to COVID-19, with production originally scheduled in March. We quickly realized during the quarantine that the context of the piece needed to transform, and mutate. Our initial idea on ‘bodies that transgress homonationalism’, now had different implications in the context of anti-Asian racism that emerged from COVID-19 related sinophobia, and has now shifted again with movements against anti-Black violence. This concept of interrogating how homonationalism upholds the colonial white supremacist nation state has new implications, in light of the changing discourse of systemic racism, and the literal enforcement of biopolitics and racial capitalism by the nation-state. How do notions of “fear”, “discomfort” and “destabilization” that we invoke through this piece relate to public discourse today?
By evoking a sci-fi horror lens, we connect our own xenophobic fears towards the fox spirit, to place an immediate sense of fear that this entity is growing and looming above, under, and surrounding all around us. Visually, the virus-like creature spreads through the gradient of 3 thematic worlds: utopia, apocalypse, and dystopia — infecting and penetrating into the very matter of each of the world’s reality, taking on the properties of everything it touches like the invasion of the body snatchers. In this state, it’s not just the physical bodies being replicated (fox to human), but thoughts, minds, DNA are all absorbed and mirrored. The evocation of fear through desolation and macabre reflects how (white) homonationalism is enforced by the nation-state to conform certain (racialized) bodies, genders and sexualities, into a productive “normative” citizen.
A key component in the potency of the fox spirit’s magical powers is memory loss. She enacts a kind of forgetting — serving both a protective shield around herself and her clan’s location and lair, and more importantly, what actually happened. The Huli jing’s potency and her magical powers threaten the colonial, homonational state, as well as the weaponized potential/power in forgetting and memory loss and what that does to our controlled/policed bodies. What exactly are the visceral and embodied tensions between the mechanisms of white homonormativity and the “deviant Other” that the Huli jing represents? What are the linkages between the emotional and spiritual vulnerabilities that are essential to the shifts towards broader social change in the queer community? What is the ultimate threat to the mechanisms of homonormativity — which includes whiteness — when assimilation is refused?
David Ng is a queer, feminist, media artist, and co-founder of Love Intersections. His current artistic practices grapple with queer, racialized, and diasporic identity, and how intersectional identities can be expressed through media arts. His interests include imagining new possibilities of how queer racialized artists can use their practice to transform communities.
Jen Sungshine speaks for a living, but lives for breathing art into spaces, places, cases. She is a nerdy queer Taiwanese interdisciplinary artist/activist, facilitator, and community mentor based in Vancouver, BC, and is the Co-Creative Director and founder of Love Intersections, a media arts collective dedicated to collaborative filmmaking and relational storytelling. Jen’s artistic practice is informed by an ethic of tenderness; instead of calling you out, she wants to call you in, to make (he)artful social change with her. In the audience, she looks for weirdos, queerdos and anti-heroes. In private, she looks after more than 70 houseplants and prefers talking to plants than to people.
TOWN CRIER is a series of site-specific performances enacted in public space wherein I perform the role of a town crier. Historically, the role of the crier was to deliver proclamations in a market or square on behalf of the royal court. They were elaborately dressed and utilized a handbell to underscore their deliverances. In my work, rather than delivering assertions on behalf of a royal court, I deliver my proclamations on behalf of the working class which I am a part of. In doing so in the spaces I select to leverage my presence against I am focused on articulating these interventions in space as a way to disrupt the minutiae of capitalist ideologies that articulate our understandings of space and context within those locations.
Based in Miami, Florida KUNST is an interdisciplinary artist working to contextualize and visualize the aberrant queer phenomenology inherent to our bodies, our experiences and our fantasies. Having studied various fields of interest from philosophy to classical music, since 2012 they have blended their years of study with sculpture, video art, performance, soundscape design and illustration to produce a surrealist fantasy in which the Queer Other is opened up and explored interpersonally.
Breaking the Promise of Tropical Emptiness: Trans Subjectivity in the Postcard
My work aspires to articulate languages of decoloniality through inter-textual and inter-textural artistic practices.
My life’s work emerges from a concern for justice and an imperative to heal from colonial pasts. I reimagine and reformulate languages of the self in order to offer “a countermemory, for the future” (Gordon). I explore ancestral loss— as the loss of bodies, histories, cultures, languages, genders, knowledge systems and spiritual practices— in order to rewrite the marginalized and silenced voice in contemporary contexts of global imperialism. I draw from the past to interrupt the present, and offer possibilities of being for future, as a “reacquisition of power to create one’s own i-mage” (Philip).
The “i” in my work is multiple: it is an i that is descendant of Slaves and Indentured labour, it is an i that grew up on the plantation island of Mauritius, it is an i that is economically working-class but culturally middle-class, it is an i filled with queer desires, it is an i that crosses normative gender lines, it is an i that grew up in a half-Catholic and half-Hindu family, it is an i that is East-African, South-Asian and in the process of becoming Canadian… The i in my work refuses to be restricted by singularity, it cannot be: my voice is multiple, moving beyond and across definitions, a voice imbued in “complex personhood” (Gordon).
The i in my work, then, is not constrained by the boundaries of disciplinarity. I work across live performance, poetry, installations, textile and visual arts to speak multiple aesthetic and political voices that enunciate a decolonial poetics. The voice in the body of my work expresses itself across different media and in the interstices between these media. These intermedia spaces provide the terrain for elaborating “strategies of selfhood— singular and communal— that initiate new signs of identity, and innovative sites of collaboration, and contestation” (Bhabha). Through an inter-disciplinary practice, I create a range of ‘in-between’ spaces and ‘in-between’ voices which offer a kaleidoscopic view of my subjectivities as they relate to space, time, history, and kinship: “this interstitial passage between fixed identifications opens up the possibility of a cultural hybridity that entertains difference without an assumed or imposed hierarchy” (Bhabha). I thus re-figure my own corporality as multiple, transgressing genres, locations, bodies, tongues, spaces and temporalities.
“Breaking the Promise of Tropical Emptiness: Trans Subjectivity in the Postcard” is a performance-based photography series where I call into question the dominating aesthetics of postcards as orientalist visual artifacts that have historically portrayed island spaces as “exotic” landscapes, devoid of local subjectivity. In this series, I disrupt the colonial postcard frame by positioning my queer and transgender body in the foreground of stereotypical postcard-like landscapes. “Breaking the Promise” also articulates a visual vocabulary with which to reclaim the scapes of my home/is/land and return my transgender body back to the land I had to flee in order to birth my queer femme self.
Kama La Mackerel is a multi-disciplinary artist, educator, writer, cultural mediator and literary translator who hails from Mauritius and now lives in Montréal. Their work is grounded in the exploration of justice, love, healing, decoloniality, and self- and collective-empowerment. They work within and across poetry, photography, performance, installation and textile arts. @kamalamackerel
Molecular Prosthesis, 2020
Joseph Liatela is a multidisciplinary artist based in New York City. Through a transgender lens, his work explores the cultural and medico-legal notions of what is considered a “correct” bodily formation.
He has exhibited at Denniston Hill, LACE, Field Projects, Monmouth Museum, BRIC, and PS122 Gallery, among others. Liatela’s work has been featured in The Leslie Lohman Journal, SF MoMA’s Open Space, Artsy, among others. They have received fellowships from the Zellerbach Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, Wassaic Project, Denniston Hill, California College of the Arts, Banff Centre, and Columbia University.
What Lies Beneath
On the subject of PLACE, the Vancouver-centric Flash Collective promises a uniquely prescient opportunity: collaboration between the QAF and Finkelstein has been irrevocably altered by the COVID-19 pandemic and the marginalized artists the workshop aimed to serve are now grappling with the complexity of a post-pandemic future in real time.
In July 2020, the Queer Arts Festival (QAF) will support a visual art exhibition curated by artist, activist, and community organizer Jonny Sopotiuk on the festival theme of Wicked. Sopotiuk’s curation includes a single-day workshop for a group of emerging and early career local artists with New York-based artist and seminal HIV/AIDS activist Avram Finkelstein, known as a Flash Collective. Originating in his HIV/AIDS activism of the 1980s, Finkelstein’s Flash Collective is an experiment in political art-making wherein he leads a group of artists to answer the call to collective action. The artists form a collective of limited duration intent on producing a single intervention in a public space; a result-oriented exercise aimed at collective action by focusing on collective decision-making within a surgical and fast-paced format intended to cut directly to the point of the work-its content.
Prior to the festival on June 16 2020, Finkelstein guided a group of 9 2SLGBTQ+ identified local artists through a pre-prescribed 6-hour Flash Collective workshop. As a short-term collective, participants will imagine alternative models on activating social spaces through reflection on the history of queer activism—a dynamically charged subject given the impact marginalized communities are experiencing under the pallor of the COVID-19 pandemic and the era of social distancing. The product of the workshop is negotiated by the collective with artist selection based on their unique contributions, including interest in or experience with activism, graphic design, photography, and animation. In his role as convenor, Finkelstein will bring together the first ever online flash collective where artists will explore community and collaboration during a pandemic by producing a single intervention in public space.
Claire Love Wilson
Jackson Wai Chung Tse
C.A.T. Stateless Genderless Passport
Apply for your passport here:
You are choosing to become a de facto global citizen by your own personal authority with the support of the Cathara Autonomous Territory as issuing source.
Be aware of other stateless citizens holders of the CAT passport, we are everywhere.
You are here therefore, liberated and are the sole ruler of your body in space.
Due to the rise of systems of oppression via the nation state, the rebels of the Theocratic Republic of Gaia —the Catharas— have created the Stateless Autonomous passport. With this document you renounce to any involuntary forced common identity imparted because of the nation state and commit to the erasure of imaginary lines forced upon humans in the world; through blood, war and genocide.
When you sign the Cathara Autonomous Territory passport, you declare yourself stateless. You abandon your alliance to: nation borders and gender borders, chauvinism, patriotism, and fascism. You declare that these concepts don’t define the true existence of the individual and are not a marker for human value.
Elektra KB is a Latinx immigrant artist, living and working in Brooklyn, NY. They graduated with an MFA from Hunter College in 2016 and received a DAAD award, pursued at UDK—Berlin with artist Hito Steyerl. Their work engages corporeal sickness and disability, with utopian possibilities and alternative universes. KB investigates: gender, migration, transculturality, and abuse of power. Their work entangles mutual aid, political action, and communication, often with a documentarian-sci-fi-like hybrid approach, exploring utopia and dystopia. Across: photography, textiles, video, installation and performance. KB’s work has been written about in: Art Forum, Artnews and The New York Times. Recent shows include: ‘Nobody Promised You Tomorrow’ at the Brooklyn Museum.
Bad Girls, 2011
Bad Girls is inspired by scandalous and intriguing women throughout history. Mycatholic upbringing has impressed onto me the idea of an acceptable woman, what theyact like, what they look like and how they are portrayed. By referencing the renaissancegenre of history painting I create mythological and allegorical images of womenthroughout history, but with a rebellious, sexual twist. These women fascinate mebecause their stories portray them as “bad girls”. These images ask the viewer thequestion “why are these specific women perceived to be ‘bad’, why is a woman owningher own sexuality considered a malfeasance?”
By using allegorical stories and myths, I use archetypal “female” characters throughouthistory to present a new type of history image, one where the central figure isempowered, in control, and blessed by a baroque stream of light. Digital photographyitself informs my work, the idea of truth in the photograph is subverted, through digitalediting, to create an alternative truth, a pluralistic narrative. I reinterpret this genre ofphotography and the characters I portray. Sex, sanity, religion, gender, bondage andwickedness are themes I am exploring.
Dayna Danger is a 2Spirit/Queer, Metis/Saulteaux/Polish visual artist raised in so called Winnipeg, MB. Using photography, sculpture, performance and video, Dayna Danger‘s practice questions the line between empowerment and objectification by claiming space with her larger than life scale work.
Danger’s current use of BDSM and beading leather fetish masks explores the complicated dynamics of sexuality, gender, and power in a consensual and feminist manner. Danger is currently based in Tio’tia:ke.
Danger holds a MFA in Photography from Concordia University. Danger has exhibited her work in Santa Fe, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal, Peterborough, North Bay, Vancouver, Edmonton and Banff. Danger currently serves as a board member for the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective (ACC/CCA).
Perversions come in all sizes
Perversions come in all sizes (2019) considers issues of shame, endurance, melodrama, and eroticism as they relate to queer subjectivity. The project centres around a machine custom-built for my body that I used to feed myself one cookie for every person I have had a sexual encounter with. The machine requires my body to be in a constant state of awkward tension when operated; either pushing my weight back to crank the first conveyor belt or pedaling backwards to move the second conveyor belt towards my mouth. In borrowing aesthetics from gym equipment and fetish furniture, the machine suggests a blurring of the boundaries of indulgence and discipline, ecstatic deviance and self-flagellation.
Christopher Lacroix (Canadian, b. 1986) holds a BFA from Ryerson University, ON (2012) and an MFA from the University of British Columbia, BC (2018). His work has been exhibited at The Polygon Gallery (Vancouver), window (Winnipeg), Georgia Scherman Projects (Toronto), and Forest City Gallery (London). Lacroix was the 2018 recipient of the Philip B. Lind Emerging Artist Prize. He currently lives and works in Vancouver, BC.
Silver War Storm
My practice re-imagines information technologies as an ecosystem of narratives bridging egalitarian fantasias about social spaces at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, exploring tensions between identity and colonization, access and limitation, agency and refusal. While waiting for fabrication tests for a recent commission, I started sketching my source material, a photo manipulated iPhone image of a transgendered friend—the first drawings I’d attempted since recovering from a stroke. I was surprised to find my hand no longer “belongs” to me, and dictates its own vernacular. These arduous gesture drawings, involving graphite held with both hands, evolved into detailed pencil renderings. The resulting mural-sized drawings document a reacquaintance with my disobedient body, raising questions that exceeded my explorations of gender representation, into personal inquiries about corporeality as a system in flux.