No, I don't speak chinese (2016)
As a kid, I hated being Chinese. Instead, I wanted to be white and live in a Western society.
In this performance, I use my childhood desire to rub my skin colour away as a starting point to unearth the roots of my Chinese-Singaporean identity.
In homage to Lee Wen’s Journey of a Yellow Man, I paint myself completely yellow. However, while his use of yellow “[elevated] the symbolism of yellow to that of the colour of the sun or that of gold”, my “yellow-ness” was a source of shame and was something I wanted to get rid of.
I deracinate a bonsai tree planted into a rice cooker filled with boiled rice. As I uproot the bonsai and stuff my face with rice, an audio track of me trying to learn the Singaporean national pledge in Mandarin plays in the background. Eventually, I rub the yellow off my body with the Singapore flag before cleaning up the space efficiently with cleaning liquid.
Documentation by Manuel Vason & Julia Bauer.