Shu Lea Cheang
* 1954 in Tainan, TPE, lives and works in Paris, FRA
studied at the National Taiwan University, TPE, and the New York University, USA
»Octo-Senso Power Forever« —a CGI-animated, flying octopus appears in each of the four episodes of Wonders Wander and spreads its tentacles to protect the actors: queer migrants giving an account of their flight and demanding open borders in a self-confident way; people with functional diversity asserting their right to self-determined sexuality; alternative family constellations fighting against normative reproduction politics; and young trans persons, whose everyday lives are related. They belong to the fringe groups in the queer scene as well and fight for visibility through their language, bodies, and actions in science fiction-like scenes. The octopus appears as the epitome of change and (gender) fluidity in the work.
The title of the video is derived from the Madrid city district of Malasaña, which is nicknamed »Maravillas« (Eng.: »Wonders«) and was a breeding ground of the subcultural movement (»La Movida Madrileña«) in the 1980s. Found footage of this movement, which is especially important for the LGBTQ scene, serves as a trailer to the four episodes. Originally conceived as a GPS- based web series for smartphones on the occasion of the Madrid Pride 2017, the work links sites of homo- and transphobe criminality in Madrid with images of a new, diverse queer scene, whose protagonists impressively tell of problems and discrimination, but also strength, solidarity, and collective activism.
Wonders Wander captivates due to its collective and participatory structures: In the production phase, Cheang closely collaborated with a network of locals actors, while reception often took place during joint walks through the city and opened up spaces for discussions and actions. On account of the site-specific production and reception conditions, the four episodes decidedly cast a view to the LGBTQ scene and the development of their rights in Madrid and Spain; but with Wonders Wander, Cheang, who grasps herself as a ›digital nomad‹, not only draws a picture of the current situation there. The themes that the video addresses can also be conceived globally and detached from their original locations. Not least, the originally web-based production mode attributes a crucial role to the internet as a potential medium for communication and collective processes, as well as a place to discuss political and social issues.
My work constructs networked installation and multi-player performance in participatory impromptu mode. I draft sci-fi narratives in my film scenario and artwork imagination. I build social interface with transgressive plots and open network that permits public participation. For every new work, I consider renewed investigation in genres, genders, medium, technologies and collaborators. My work situates film/video in a networked installation/performance scenario. I can easily expand a concept into various set of media - film, video, net, web, installation, performance. Currently I am situated in post-net, post-crash BIoNet with a focus on bio hack and viral love. WONDERS WANDER is a location based mobi-web-serial with 4 fictional episodes set in Madrid city. Departing from Madrid’s Malasaña Barrio, known as Maravillas (Wonders) during La Movida Madrileña countercultural movement (1980s), WONDERS WANDER takes the wonders out of Malasaña to explore off-the-mainstream nouveau queer generation that includes refugees, migrants, functional diversity, transfeminista, transfeminism, open family, subversive motherhoods, sustainable living, and the rise of auto-defense practices for self-empowerment. This work follows the threads of my investigation into societal engagement with relentless defiance, seductive sensuality and vigorous passion.
Shu Lea Cheang