A bug like any other, 2018. Mixed media installation and performance including gouache paintings on paper, plexiglass, secondhand Ikea frames, Ikea chair, fake fur, rayon and upholstery fabrics. 15” x 8” x 8”. Worth Ryder Gallery.
What happens when signifiers detach from the rich contexts that produce them and become aesthetic objects?
A bug like any other is a performance-activated installation that asks viewers to consider how symbols and gestures travel across borders, as well as the problematic contexts that are elided or re-imagined during these migrations. Culling imagery from Chinese Opera costume and natural history drawings produced during the British colonization of Singapore, A bug like any other aims to problematize the process through which visual cultures become hybridized.
During a performance on 2018 January 24, I (as a “Bug”) communicated using one of two non-verbal languages, both of which I dynamically developed in concert with those in the gallery space. When using the first language, I mimicked the movements of a person in the space. When using the second language, I drew from a larger dictionary of bodily language I acquired through past performances and activations, including the one taking place that evening. I switched between these two languages in response to the dynamics of the audience.
At the beginning of the evening, most people did not know how to interact with me, and I had a very limited lexicon of gestures with which to communicate with them. By the end of the performance, I had learned a significantly expanded repertoire of movements, which I could then use to initiate “dialogue.” Drawing heavily from my experiences of using mimicry as an assimilation tool, this work hopes to raise questions around the aestheticization of visual cultures of imperialism and how language acquisition (verbal, gestural, visual) contributes to representations of self.