Kay Mei Ling BEADMAN
Visitors are invited to select and wear an invisibility cloak. The cloaks are oversized, both absurd and highly visible, yet the shapelessness of the draping hides multiple signifiers, from presumptive race to age and gender. When all such markers are removed, or unable to be used for discriminatory means, who might we become? The installation Enmeshed + Invisibility has two parts: a hand-knotted net made of gold and silver wire, and reversible gold and silver cloaks. The fine net is static, hanging floor to ceiling, and barely visible. The metallic lamé cloaks are available to be worn by visitors.
This project emerges out of research into mixed-race identity formation in Hong Kong, in which a number of deeply embedded social constructs intersect within embodied experience. To identify as mixed white and Chinese in Hong Kong is to challenge the existing dichotomy of Chinese and foreigner, and the false binaries of hierarchical and historically constructed racisms. The lived experience of mixed-race identity formation is a lens through which to notice and question invisible power structures and the entangled relational webs through which we all navigate.
The use of gold and silver arises out of the 19th-century treatise Datong Shu by Kang You Wei, in which he posits a problematic eugenic super race of Chinese and white mixedness, using the metaphor of gold and silver metal smelting. In a response to this, a short speculative fiction, Proximity Veils, evolved set in a far future (a millennium hence timeline that Kang himself set) in which digital facial feature obscuration can be turned on at the flick of an implanted switch. The Invisiblity Cloaks, combined here with Enmeshed, are a tangible, participatory way to engage physically with concepts around complex identities.
About the artist
Kay Mei Ling Beadman is an artist, researcher, and co-founder of Hidden Space, an independent artist-run space in Hong Kong. She uses her own Chinese and English mixed race as an autoethnographic springboard to explore aspects of complex dual identity formation, drawing on embodied aspects of lived experience amid socio-politically and culturally constructed assumptions. Her practice is multidisciplinary and includes installation, video, painting, text, and performance. Kay was born in England, zigzagged between HK and UK growing up, but has lived and worked permanently in Hong Kong since 1999. She has a BFA from Reading University, UK, an MFA from RMIT, Australia, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong. She has exhibited in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, and the UK.