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A Palm, A Fountain, An Umbrella

A Palm, A Fountain, An Umbrella

A Palm, A Fountain, An Umbrella


Two-channel color video with sound
10 mins 24 secs
[ Image credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2017.]

Searching for creases of home in a foreign fabric, I started with photo residue of Hong Kong that circulate around the globe—postcards from the British Colonial period. The video-poem revolves around the “Canton Girl”, a figure I encountered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art archive. In different postcards of the Public Garden, there is a repeated shadow of this figure, a girl looking elsewhere and sometimes holding an umbrella.

A palm tree, a fountain, an umbrella tangled in the paradox of landscape and landmark, sight and site, origin and belonging, public and private, collective and personal, past and present. Bridging a narrative between a museum portrait and ebay postcards, the video-poem explores the circulating and shifting signs layered in fractures of social-political shifts, bilingual cultural identity, coastal periphery.

In close inspection under the microscope, I review the colonial histories and postcolonial identity in these printed matters and representations. Prior to the fountain in the center of the Garden, there stood a palm tree. The fountain was demolished and rebuilt three times throughout the decades keeping the iconic water feature. The garden has a long history withstanding the changes of Hong Kong yet the history becomes elusive in the space of disappearance.

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