Red Herring
Photography installation
Red threads, inkjet prints, white fabric, monkey backpack

This work explores the way of dealing with the obsession with nostalgia. Oftentimes, we drown ourselves in reminiscence and cling to the familiarity of the past. Yet we found ourselves lost and displaced facing the present and the future. Why wouldn’t we let go even when things fall apart? How should we bid a proper farewell to our past, and how do we get out of the overwhelming nostalgia? These are the questions I try to answer in this work.

The inspiration of this work comes from my relationship with my first boyfriend, who gifted me a stuffed monkey backpack when I was fifteen. The still images and video clips show the monkey at places we used to be, or doing things we used to do. Red threads embody the predestined romantic binding force in traditional Chinese culture; here they also represent the tangling past memory. I used the red threads to connect every element and hang the monkey. A printed instruction is placed beside the monkey guiding the audience to cut the threads one at a time. Finally, when all the threads are gone, the audience can take the monkey away with them.

Bringing the actual subject of the photograph to the site, this work merges multiple visual dimensions and forms a new way of viewing images. In front of these memory fragments, the audience automatically participates in a remembrance. When they cut the threads, the audience experienced the difficult feelings of separation while being liberation from the past. After the monkey is gone, the installation becomes the remains of a farewell.


Special thanks to: Kong Shiya, Zhu Qiwen, Qiu Yuyan, Mai Anqi, Gao Zhixin, Li Yuting, Shen Ziheng