In order to get to my grandma’s place, you have to walk through the night market, which is alive all hours of the day, past fake Chanel bed sheets and fake Nike belts, and through an electronics repair stall hunched in the middle of hulatang stalls. There’s a small electric sign imitating neon: 电. It’s straight out of Fullmetal Alchemist—Wendy’s type of place—with rusty nails hanging all over the walls, a scrap metal back door, and a guy squatting in the middle of the floor fixing some outdated radio or television set.

Did you believe anything that I just said?

I said: to get to my ancestral home, I walk through a pseudo-orientalist set of images that blend primitive and futurity—an electrician’s stall. This image of the shamanic technologist comes from a Japanese animation that orientalizes (occidentalizes?) Weimar Era Germany.

Sometimes, people ask me if I believe in astrology. What they might be asking is, “do you believe that astrology has any influence beyond the power of suggestion?” I always answer that, no, I don’t—however, I do believe that there is something mystical about imagination.

Western astrology exists as a mixed bag of genres—it includes 90’s gurl culture, guys obsessed with ancient Rome, and a healthy splash of nature yearning. Chinese cosmology is also a project of imagination. It’s in part shounen manga, in part healthy auntie culture, and in part neoconfucian state ideology.

I learned about Chinese cosmology, the wuxia, principles of I Ching, and confucianism, the same way I learned about China—my grandpa drawing shaky diagrams with trembling hands on thin sheets of loose paper, from the pile of books that he left me translated impatiently and fantastically by my mom, from my grandma showing me how to meditate, from Taiwanese Youtubers who contest the very idea of modern China, from Hong Kong gangster films, from white folks who practice a strange form of American Buddhism that looks and feels a bit like Evangelical Christianity, and from Fullmetal Alchemist, Hunter X Hunter, and even Avatar the Last Airbender.

Wuxia has always been comical and mystical at the same time. It’s a five pointed star—water, metal, fire, wood, and earth. It’s unstable and stable processes of change. Nothing is static. It’s jianghu. I step out of a Action, find that it’s not only raining but the streets are teeming with people and say “so, this is life in the jianghu.” My friend tells me that I am being very obnoxious and that jianghu reminds her of a certain type of cis dude who romanticizes martial arts, the nation, and performs emotionality.

There is something mystical about imagination but there is something violent about it as well. It’s foolish to create political meaning from imagination but we do it all the time. Gender and race are language systems. So is nationality and stories that circulate origin. The nature of language is treacherous—it does not remain loyal to an origin but continually betrays itself in order to change.

兰兰

Ancestral Fortune is a cosmic journey where past fuses into future. This exhibition invites you to let go of your human perception and step into the universe of the nonhuman that lives side by side with us. In this space, we respect those who can see without eyes, hear without ears and speak without mouths. Slowly and communally we observe the fluid patterns of nature and learn to understand their rhythmic changes. 

Curated by Honey Kraiwee 

Written language by Alice Sparkly Kat 
Visual language by Wanwai Shum
Artworks by Jiajia Qi and Junghun Kim

Opening times:

Thursday: 14.00 to 19.00
Friday: 14.00 to 21.00
(Kunstavond XL on 2 July until 22.00)
Saturday & Sunday: 14.00 to 19.00

Keep in mind the current COVID-19 measures during your visit to MAMA: keep social distance, disinfect your hands and stay home if you have any COVID-19 symptoms.

About HOME

HOME is the leitmotiv by which we encourage conversation about conceptions regarding belonging, representation and identification. HOME is a fundament, the place you return to and anchorpoint for the journey onward. HOME (offline as well as online) is the start of feeling connect to others. Under the name HOME we also present exhibitions in the showroom of MAMA. In collaboration with young makers we express interpretations about HOME | IN REAL LIFE | NETWORKS.

Related