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Shu Lea Cheang

* 1954 in Tainan, TPE
studied at the National Taiwan University, TPE, and the New York University, USA


Shu Lea Cheang x

Wonders Wander, 2017, 60:00 min. [extract 01:16 min.], colour, sound [VIDEONALE.17]

»Octo-Senso Power Forever« —a CGI-animated, flying octopus appears in each of the four episodes of Wonders Wanderand spreads its tentacles to protect the actors: queer migrants giving an account of their flight and demanding open borders in a self-confident way; people with functional diversity asserting their right to self-determined sexuality; alternative family constellations fighting against normative reproduction politics; and young trans persons, whose everyday lives are related. They belong to the fringe groups in the queer scene as well and fight for visibility through their language, bodies, and actions in science fiction-like scenes. The octopus appears as the epitome of change and (gender) fluidity in the work.
The title of the video is derived from the Madrid city district of Malasaña, which is nicknamed »Maravillas« (Eng.: »Wonders«) and was a breeding ground of the subcultural movement (»La Movida Madrileña«) in the 1980s. Found footage of this movement, which is especially important for the LGBTQ scene, serves as a trailer to the four episodes. Originally conceived as a GPS- based web series for smartphones on the occasion of the Madrid Pride 2017, the work links sites of homo- and transphobe criminality in Madrid with images of a new, diverse queer scene, whose protagonists impressively tell of problems and discrimination, but also strength, solidarity, and collective activism.
Wonders Wander captivates due to its collective and participatory structures: In the production phase, Cheang closely collaborated with a network of locals actors, while reception often took place during joint walks through the city and opened up spaces for discussions and actions. On account of the site-specific production and reception conditions, the four episodes decidedly cast a view to the LGBTQ scene and the development of their rights in Madrid and Spain; but with Wonders Wander Cheang, who grasps herself as a ›digital nomad‹, not only draws a picture of the current situation there. The themes that the video addresses can also be conceived globally and detached from their original locations. Not least, the originally web-based production mode attributes a crucial role to the internet as a potential medium for communication and collective processes, as well as a place to discuss political and social issues. (Alexandra Südkamp)

*The complete version of the work can be requested from the artist and Video Data Bank.

Shu Lea Cheang