Interview with Lynn Lu

Something Human: In your previous works, Ultima Thule: Here be Dragons and The Friction of Distance, you’ve returned each time to the ideas of nomadism, movement and travel. Could you please expand on how these ideas continue to provoke or inspire your work?

Lynn Lu: The potent and emotive notions surrounding humans traversing borders are more relevant than ever in our current political climate, and each of these works intimately addresses one tiny facet. Where Ultima Thule: Here be Dragons draws from the Singaporean wanderlust characteristic of small-nation citizens who are mostly recent migrants, The Friction of Distance directly addresses the migrant crisis today through the inscription in milk of perished refugees’ names upon the pages of Homer’s Odyssey. In Global Circumnavigations: The year-round ranges of migrants, a performance lecture, I speak of animal migration however the accompanying images are of humans (real, or fictitious, or swapped context) – in equal parts absurd, horrific and poetic. Be afraid only of standing still places alongside each other, text fragments of my grandmothers’ dramatic escape from communist China, and of Marco Polo’s deadpan narrative of his trek from Beijing through Southeast Asia.

Something Human: In Venice your performance draws from family history, could you expand on how you have worked with this personal archive to develop the performance?

Lynn Lu: My 98-year-old maternal grandmother recently passed away and reminiscing about her life with my mother, I recalled her harrowing escape from communist China. My paternal grandmother fled China under different – albeit equally dreadful – circumstances. A child of the Chinese Diaspora, I wanted to memorialize these personal histories of border-crossing. Thinking about situating these chronicles in Venice, the legendary border-crosser, Marco Polo, of course came to mind. While his descriptions of foreign lands were fascinating, I found the deadpan accounts of his (seemingly endless) journeys from point to point compelling companions for those of my ancestors.

Something Human: In the performance three strong elements are used – in the specially designed dress, the strips of text and how you apply them to wet surfaces. Could you please describe how you image these elements intervening in the spaces and textures of Venice?

Lynn Lu: I wend my way from Marco Polo’s home through the Diaspora Pavilion to the waterfront near the Arsenale, adhering text fragments of my grandmothers’ escape and of Polo’s journeys – using a mix of human sweat and tears – onto the city’s myriad surfaces. As the moisture evaporates, the slips of texts will flutter off in the breeze creating a new narrative of movement of their own.

More info on Lynn Lu here

More info on MAP1: Waterways performance programme here

Featured image credits: Wolf whistle, Lynn Lu, Image by Florian Herzberg and Dean Hart

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