‘Dreams, illusions, phantom flowers’ is a collaborative moving image project at Elephant West, London presented by Edouard Malingue Gallery with Elephant exploring ‘duality’ and how it manifests itself in our daily lives. It is further supported by the Courtauld Institute, King’s College London, School of Oriental and African Studies, Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art and Art AV. The project is accompanied by a public programme of panel discussions followed by Q&A with invited curators, academics and critics.
Focusing on moving image works from Asia and its diaspora, ‘Dreams, illusions, phantom flowers’ brings together Wong Ping (b. 1984, Hong Kong), Ho Tzu Nyen (b. 1976. Singapore), Samson Young (b. 1979, Hong Kong), João Vasco Paiva (b. 1979, Portugal), Tao Hui (1987, China), Kwan Sheung Chi (b. 1980, Hong Kong), Su-Mei Tse (b. 1973, Luxembourg) and Hu Xiangqian (b. 1983, China).
The multi-screen project takes as a point of departure verse 45 from Hsin Hsin Ming (Faith in Mind), a succinct statement of Mahayana or personal enlightenment by Seng Ts’An (529-606 A.D.), the third Chinese patriarch of Zen Buddhism, translated in 1982 by George Brecht:
Dreams, illusions, phantom flowers / Why trouble to reach for (them)?
Creating individual viewing zones for each artist and in turn their practice, you are urged to sit and engage with varying fields of view. Wong Ping uses crass and colourful animations to mount a discourse around repression, whether sexual, personal or political. Ho Tzu Nyen delves into historicised truths by mounting a critical mashup of famous films. Samson Young addresses control through song and sound, from the impetus of a political party to the road briefs that regulate our movements. João Vasco Paiva considers territories, how we define and claim them, both digitally and physically, from colonial pasts to now. Tao Hui explores shifted manners of living, both actual and represented, in light of technological developments. Kwan Sheung Chi addresses Hong Kong’s uncertain future by using, on this occasion, the foil of Jean-Luc Godard’s films. Su-Mei Tse creates moments of contemplative suspension between the actual and imagined, incorporating music and movement. Hu Xiangqian posits our posterity, from the skills we no longer possess, to the communities we engage with.
Ultimately, ‘Dreams, illusions, phantom flowers’ explores representations of one’s life, notions of ‘otherness’, as well as the disparity between what one means, says and does. Considerations that through the medium of moving image are heightened and familiar, especially in an age of social media and technology, which is at the heart of cultivated manifestations of the self.