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ancient shamanic myth in the context in the community affected by war and division

Loss/ruins

The myth is also reflected in the poetry of Swedish poet Mara Lee and in the poetics of Kim Hyesoon from whose book ‘Woman, I Do Poetry’ the translated title Community of Parting derives. It further resonates in various narratives by South Korean, North Korean, and diasporic women who negotiate how gender bias along with colonialism, modernity, and war have resulted in radical ruptures while unfinished histories continue to linger.


In its multi-layered approach through which multiple voices, narratives, and images come together through delicately edited montage sequences, I was formally interested in creating a film that mediates in a way similar to the shamanic ritual, which really is a blurring of boundaries between mundane time and ritual time, between the living and the dead, self and other, and the work similarly is an attempt at blurring boundaries between filmic genres and tracing a genealogy of female creation that departs from modernist Western notions of artistic genius and autonomy by rather stressing a collaborative and mutually informed and inspired approach to creation.

  • Writer's pictureCristea Zhao

In this round of dossier, I looked at artists who deal with physicality diminishment and the; artists who effectively used repetition as a phenomenon in their practice to produce melancholia effects. Moreover, I paid attention to how many of these artists manipulated text differently in their works.


As my practice developed, I’ve become more conscious of the subject matter that my works revolve around. My interests in loss has always focused on the interrelationship of the subject and the lost object. This focus made my thinkings always centre around the intricate dimension of self and other. This is still an important thread in my practice, strengthened by precedents like Joan Jonas, Sophie Calle, Yang Zhenzhong. But through works from Douglas Gordon, Bill Viola and Ed Atkins, I broadened up the core on interrelationship to the loss/death itself.


My current interests on repetition is informed by Hal Foster, C. Fred Blake and Maurice Blanchot. When speaking of Warhol’s repetitions, Hal Foster wrote ‘they suggest an obsessive fixation on the object in melancholy,… not only reproduce traumatic effects; they also produce them’. When analysizing burning paper money custom through the principle of structuralism and phenomenology, C. Fred Blake pointed out that the gesture of tedious, repetitive folding and touching, transcends the common material that you could purchase into something that ‘comes closest to some level of experiencing the ontology of the world in its intertwining…’ These two views particularly shaped my decision making in terms of video in loops and my understanding of repetition as an active engagement that produces the real rather than a passive replication or reproduction. In The Writing of the Disaster, there was similar view too: ‘“The other is related only to the other: the other repeats, but this repetition is not a repetition of the same” This is especially impressive in Déjà-Vu and Take Care of Yourself. Moreover, repetition is not only simply an active engagement, this is also a powerful drive that deconstruct the present, forces the present to linger with the history. Blanchot repetitively pointed out: ‘Repetition: the ultimate over and over, general collapse, destruction of the present’.


When it comes to the usage of text, as mentioned above I was influenced by Maurice Blanchot’s text and Michael Richardson’s Gestures of Testimony, in which he purposed that writing trauma is ’writing about trauma but also the trauma of writing’ (no doubt this reversibility of such expression is from Blanchot as well, ‘the —— of ——‘, a motionless instability), or even ‘the traumatic effects that writing can generate and leave within the body’. I intend to borrow this idea and apply to the ‘writing loss’. This is not only the writing of loss, but also the loss of writing that could only be read by listening to.


  1. Foster, Hal. The Return of the Real : The Avant-garde at the End of the Century. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1996.

  2. C  Fred Blake, Burning Money : The Material Spirit of the Chinese Lifeworld, Honolulu: University Of Hawaiʻi Press, 2011.

  3. Michael Richardson, Gestures of Testimony : Torture, Trauma, and Affect in Literature. New York Bloomsbury Academic, 2018.

  4. Blanchot, Maurice. Author, and Smock, Ann. The Writing of the Disaster = (L'ecriture Du DeÌsastre). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986.



Happy Birthday, 1994

Performance, Text, Photography


The day is cloudy at 9:15 am I put the cake in a black bag in a red Xiali taxi on the lakeside and went through the Yuhuang Mountain tunnel to Nanshan Cemetery at 10:05 am I found his grave today is your birthday wish you happy birthday I lit three joss sticks and opened the cake in front of the grave and some paper money sprinkled around the grave just now there is no one in the cemetery you quietly enjoy two ants crawling to you if you want to share with them I don't care about them I hope you'll accept it as my best wish I've cleaned up some leaves I've burned the paper money I don't need to know to to meet you.It's 11:30.I'll leave the cake here and I am leaving

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