Hong Kong Future Diaspora [Work in Progress] is the second cycle of Eelyn's Performing Identities , an expansive project that explores what it means to be East and Southeast Asian (ESEA) in the UK today.
With a focus on Hong Kong diaspora, this cycle spans a two-year period (2022-23) of relationship building, careful workshopping and co-development. While Eelyn’s opening gambit is the ‘Chinese’ takeaway and restaurant as a site of embodied identity, she also turns to other, everyday movements that settle into our bodies over time. Inviting recent and established UK-based Hong Kongers across two and three generations of migration, she facilitates critical discussions around the shaping, holding and re-imagining of identities.
Collaborators are in the process of devising a series of contemporary mythical characters. Centring embodiment, conversation and improvisation, the group has created worlds and characters that forge a speculative ‘Hong Kong-ness’. Work in progress is currently on exhibition at Bloc Projects [21st Oct - 19th Nov '22]. Video documentation of a live performance/ritual - blessing the opening of the exhibition - can be viewed below. Beginning in the courtyard outside the gallery, the performance moved through eight stages of diasporic becoming: awakening, gathering, resisting, travelling, protesting, blessing, navigating and resting.
The rise of racism towards East and Southeast Asians during the COVID-19 pandemic mobilised many ESEA people to collectivise and examine race more closely. Performing Identities is part of this discourse, challenging racist stereotypes and Orientalist framing of ESEA people and cultures. At the same time, thousands of Hong Kongers have fled to the UK as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) forcibly implements both the sedition and national security laws to crack down on free speech. It is in this heady confluence of racial and political oppression that Hong Kongers across diasporas are questioning our identities.
Collaborators to date include artists, researchers, martial arts scholars and fellow makers: Clara Cheung, Dr Wayne Wong, Jan-Ming Lee, Angela YT Chan, Anna Chan, Jonathan Tang, Franco Ho, Shan Ray Cheung and Sunshine Wong.
Photo Credit: Yellow Pocket Studios
Film by Richard Heap