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The tube that consumed me (and you)

This work deserves its own explanation.

The other night saw my third time exhibiting my work hide and seek (2018), a tube consuming itself of thread and the person inside. I have so much love and hate for this particular work.

This work came about when my friend Gianna asked me to create a textile piece for her first curated group show “Between Two Worlds” (BTW). An exhibition exploring the hybrid of identities and cultures we as people of colour in Sydney are/experience. For me, hide and seek became a way to explore my constant confusion and cyclical questioning in the state of the in between as an ABC (Australian born Chinese) — too Chinese in an Australian context, but too white in a Chinese context. The work is an invitation for audience to crawl in and experience the questioning and realisation of the self in an isolating yet comforting surrounding. (In conjunction with this concept, I feel the construction and scale of the work came to be from my Honours concept/foundation and research of exploring of the constant blurring of space between body and object through movement and interaction.)

This internalised racial TRAUMA (all in denial) I had all through growing up and especially high school (yikes) became a literal trauma when making the work. I’ve always said the process of creating a work is a work in itself…this work saw me sewing day and night non-stop for 2 weeks, maybe more? (it was a blur), on top of Honours work and a job. BIG FAT HUSTLE. I cried throughout (backstory: was very unstable at the time which didn’t help) and couldn’t see through waves of tears as I sewed and sobbed loudly blasting music to cover the sobs. Just a mix of stress and ambition! It wasn’t the first time I sewed thread on thread on thread, but it was (and is) the biggest scale I’d ever worked with, so the more I sewed, the heavier the piece got (8kg all up, dragging my sewing machine off the table lowkey), the more space the piece took up and the harder it was to sew (due to the tiny crook of space a sewing machine has at its curve). Finally I finished machine sewing all the thread on the inside…? HAHA NO FAT JOKE ON ME, there were bald patches due to the machine not being able to reach certain parts, so I went in to hand sew (sew sew sew tired man!). Anyway, I finished hand sewing the hoops at each end at 4am the morning of its shoot (ffs marisa, a real marisugh moment).

I had pulled through and opening night (30th May 2018, down/under space, Chippendale) was HUGE. It was crazy how many people actually slipped, slid, shifted inside (and got stuck and got red thread stuck on them). The exploration of space between body and object became visual that night from all the shifting body movement.

I’m so proud of this work and love how it’s an interactive and fun way to explore identity, but every time I see it — it reminds me of the struggles of identity paralleled with the struggle of making it. Love or Hate, no in-between, ironic because it’s between two worlds.

The tube is currently part of “Peach Blossom Spring” a group exhibition curated by Naomi Segal, featuring Joy Li, Nolan Ho Wung Murphy, NC Qin, Zoe Wong, Connor Xia and myself at Firstdraft (Woolloomooloo). I remember in my first year of Uni, I went to gallery openings at Firstdraft and thought wow huge to exhibit here! So now a degree later, it’s safe to say…i’ve come…full…circle (LOL GET IT?).

Hope you enjoyed my little drama saga. Let me know what you think!

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