Despite my parents’ best efforts, I’m a 41-year old queer, trans-masc, non-binary, Chinese, British-born multi-hyphenate artist. I’m based in London via what I call “Fortress” Essex but I would love to move to the sea because I’m a squid.
My parents were from British-colonised Hong Kong. They grew up in the 1950s idealising English tweeness. My love of experimentation scared them and because of Chinese culture, despite my rebellions, the put-downs from them and from society still affect my confidence. From art school to scissoring my own hair because as a girl I had no idea I could visit the barber. Imagine only discovering words like intersectional when you’re 36. Now I use it all the time!
I explore culture, race, gender and other aspects of intersectional existence(s) by building worlds (“prolific surviveries”) through drawing, music composition, performance, poetry, video, zines and more. I’ve been featured as a performer at iconic venues such as The Southbank Centre and The Barbican Centre and my work has been performed or screened in the UK, Europe, Asia, the US – and on the internet of course.
Since 2019, I have worked really hard to produce a body of work:
Off-the-wall comedy videos Pashville and Crushes for Bar Wotever/Open Barbers and Forest Gayte Pride respectively; Theme and Interlude Music Composition for Adventures in Time & Gender (Jason Barker); Film-score composition and video for Breaking The Spell (Bird la Bird/The National Maritime Museum); Scored Ensemble Composition for Chinese Arts Now/Shanghai Table Tennis Festival; Improvised comedy music for Comediasians/Rumah Fest; Live performance for The Bitten Peach UK/The Vault Festival, Devil’s Dyke Network, Fringe Film Fest and Trans Pride Brighton; and a multimedia project for Usurp Art. My self-directed music video Take Me Back to the Ocean collected 1k views through the efforts of queer community and allies in less than a week after its release.
Despite my wish to slow down a bit, I am thrilled to see this list. Queers and intersectional orgs finally getting funding. I’m trying to gather the confidence and focus to apply for funding!
It took me nearly 4 decades to start calling myself an artist. One of my main focuses for 2021 is producing a chart-topping hit (!!!) pop song and video “Asians Have Feelings Too”. Contact me if you want to be part of this music history!
Secondly, having self-published fifteen zines, I would love to find a publisher for my poetry, artwork, comics and scores. Simultaneously, I am finding voice by (finally) writing opinion and non-fiction blogs, being interviewed and hosting my own DIY interviews on Instagram.
Making multi-sensory art is vital for my mental health and emotional processing. Despite my age, or perhaps because of it, I have found it incredibly challenging to dismantle gaslighting and access language and stories that affirmed my experience. Although it is problematic, Instagram has been educational for me. Early experiences have made it consistently hard to imagine the future, but in particular, Black queer and trans activists such as @JacobVJoyce @AlokVMenon @Fimi.Biscuit have opened my heart. I feel strongly about decolonising education, creating art and media for transformative justice and mental health.
As Asians, I think it is important that when we take up space, we grow our awareness of the hierarchy of systems of injustice. While I’m new to it, I am trying to be aware of my privilege and acknowledge it. I hope this might encourage others to try it too.
It was an amazing experience to be part of the Asians in Britain shoot! After a year of being stuck in Burbville (where I live) and having experienced corona racism myself, it was tremendously exciting to meet so many friendly and shithot Asians. It’s been great to find out more about their work via Asians in Britain. Planning my outfit was also a lot of fun.
Due to fears around transphobia, queerphobia, everyday existentialist doubt and a desire for privacy I have remained hidden. When I released my debut album in 2019 I didn’t even do a press release. But lack of representation fuels racism and I feel like it’s time to come through and say hello.
When I hear people say they don’t think representation matters, I wonder if they knew what it was like to not have seen ANYONE on TV in the UK of similar ethnicity. When I was little, at one point I thought I was Italian because otherwise, it would mean that I didn’t exist.
Connecting to the work of accounts like Asians in Britain, ESEAinTech, Besea.n, StopAsianHate and many many other brilliant organisations has started to help me to see things differently!
It sounds cheesy, but it’s like a magic painting…
Just add water (maybe some tears and sweat)… and our pictures come to life!