susan pui san lok, RoCH Fans (2013, work in progress)
Derby QUAD, 19 September – 15 November 2015
Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA), Manchester, 3 June – 3 July 2016
RoCH Fans & Legends is a new body of work commissioned by Derby QUAD and the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CfCCA), in partnership with Animate Projects and the University of Salford. Premiered at QUAD in autumn 2015, RoCH Fans & Legends will tour to CFCCA in June 2016 as part of their 30th anniversary programme. Upcoming screenings of Trailers include Art Basel HK, 24-26 March 2016, and the 62nd Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, 5-10 May 2016.
RoCH Fans & Legends draws on the prolific film and television adaptations of The Condor Trilogy (1957-61), a classic ‘new wuxia’ epic by Louis Cha (Cha Leung-yung / Zha Liangyong) aka Jin Yong. The wider project sets out to explore the genre’s recurring tropes and translations in diaspora – its fantasies, landscapes, and archetypes, as well as its ‘poor images‘ and ‘pidgin translations’; ‘RoCH’ is both a reference to the popular shorthand for Return of the Condor Heroes (the second novel in the trilogy), and to the shifting aesthetics of its many spectacular repetitions and ‘returns’. From film and television to anime and comic books, the trilogy’s numerous re-versions reflect evolutions in medium and materiality in tandem with (re)production technologies and distribution platforms. They also attest to its enduring appeal, with multiple productions and co-productions from Hong Kong and mainland China, Taiwan, Japan and Singapore since the late fifties (some 40 to date), as well as innumerable fan-generated dubs and subtitles, fan-fiction extensions and fan-translations into English.
Changing modes and networks of distribution and spectatorship, from bootleg videos tapes to digital formats and online streaming media, enable myriad linguistic and cultural encounters with wuxia. Alluding to questions of authenticity, fantasy, consumption and translation, RoCH Fans & Legends aims to engage some of the languages and spaces between the ‘authorised’ and the ‘amateur’, the ‘licensed’ and ‘unlicensed’, and the ongoing re/de/generations of wuxia fans and legends.
RoCH Fans & Legends (Entries), 2013, inkjet prints, various lengths
RoCH Fans & Legends (Variations), 2013, Photoshopped screenshots
Drawings, 2014, colour pencil on paper
Trilogies, 2015, 3-screen moving image installation, 65′
RoCH Fan, 2015, concertina multiple, edition of 200, 102mm x 187mm x 8415mm
Trailers, 2015, single-channel moving image work, 4′, Videotage / Art Basel HK, 24-26 March 2016
Trailers, 2015, single-channel moving image work, 4′, 62nd Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, 5-10 May 2016
Trilogies LIVE, 2016, single-channel version with live sound collaborations, approx 120′, HOME Cinema, Manchester, 16 June 2016
The Global Archive, Hanmi Gallery, London, 23 January – 9 February 2013
Above: RoCH Fans & Legends (2013, work in progress), Hanmi Gallery installation views. Images (c) the artist
A series of prints (scrolls of Google image search results) signal the specific and generic iconography of The Condor Trilogy, and its uneven, overlapping visual-linguistic circuits of transmission; a VCD of the popular 1983 Hong Kong TV version of Return of the Condo Heroes plays in the space, with Mandarin and Cantonese dubs simultaneously audible; a circle of paper condors/eagles/vultures further kitschifies an already-kitsch cultural symbol; while its multiples invoke translation as a folding process, systematic yet without sameness.