Meng-Yu Yan’s new body of work ‘Double Witness’ includes videos that were filmed in Paris last year, reliving each diary entry in Qiu Miaojin’s 1995 novel Last Words from Montmartre on the exact dates she wrote them. As France begins its 45 day lockdown, and perhaps Australia will too, these video letters give people an opportunity to see Paris as it was exactly one year ago to the day. It also highlights the temporal connections that are so significant within the work.
Mirrors, reflections and doppelgängers often lie at the heart of Yan’s practice, which conjures ghosts as a parallel to the marginalisation experienced by queer people. By resurrecting the ghost of Qiu Miaojin, a queer Taiwanese writer who lived in Paris during the early 90s, Yan becomes “a medium who has opened themselves up to being haunted, allowing Qiu’s words to come alive again through my physical embodiment. These works explore the intermingling of our lives, the cyclical nature of history, and synchronicity. It is an attempt to reach back through time and through death to make connections with queer kin.”
Meng-Yu Yan’s practice concerns Queer Spectrality, which is a term that encapsulates the erasure and absence of queer people throughout history, culture, and society. It looks at history through the figure of the ghost; an entity that challenges common notions of being and exists in a liminal space, traversing distinctions. The intensive three-month immersive performance that forms the core of ‘Double Witness’ was created while the artist was on residency in Paris at the Cité Internationale des Arts in 2019.
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