Stealing Light
Three-channel video installation
4 minutes 44 seconds

When I just arrived in New York City, I felt both amazed and lost, especially when I looked into others’ windows at night. They are so bright, so warm, and so organized that I believed I could peek into their lives, which made me see how empty mine was, and how I long for going inside. With this desire for connection, I took photos and videos of the windows and projected them onto the mosquito net on my bed, so that I could be bathed in the warm light that I stole, and could appropriate the sense of home from others to my own.

Mosquito net is an unnecessary item to live with in New York, but a very important one where I grew up. There I slept with one all seasons to prevent being woken in the middle of the night by unwanted bugs. There is no shelter more light yet more capable of bearing the weight of home than it. Painting the mosquito net with the window light I stole, I am blending my past with present, reality with fiction, so that I can create an enriched space for me to feel belonged.

The title “Stealing Light” is referencing an ancient Chinese story “Zao Bi Tou Guang,” in which the boy bore a hole on a wall so that he could use the light from his neighbor to read at night. He later earned great worldly success: his name became a legend and this story is told to encourage children to study. Though I wonder if he had ever peeked through the hole to take a glimpse of his neighbor’s life. Perhaps his next-door scene had been pin-holed down on the pages of his books.




Special Thanks to Enersto Klar
Installation Photos taken by Dong Lin,
from Doll House: Sidian Liu’s Solo Exhibition, Banshan Lin Gallery, Chengdu, China, 2022