Life af­ter death is the over­ar­ch­ing theme of pho­tog­ra­pher Wing Shya’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with artist An­gela Su. Us­ing per­for­mance and pros­thet­ics, the duo con­tem­plate the tran­si­tion from this realm to the other

Hong Kong Tatler - - Wing Shya | Angela Su -

Both Wing and An­gela are, in their own ways, fas­ci­nated by death. In An­gela’s bi­o­log­i­cal draw­ings of plants, in­sects and hu­man bod­ies, which are done with sci­en­tific pre­ci­sion, there is a pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with no­tions of de­com­po­si­tion and re­gen­er­a­tion. Wing, fa­mous for his evoca­tive, cin­e­matic por­traits (he was film di­rec­tor Wong Kar-wai’s exclusive set pho­tog­ra­pher and re­cently col­lab­o­rated with Louis Vuit­ton on a book of pho­tog­ra­phy about Shang­hai), is drawn to the idea of an af­ter­life, and the tran­si­tion from this realm to the other. “Over the years I’ve done a lot of re­search and I’ve in­ter­viewed peo­ple who have died then come back to life,” says Wing. Dur­ing his first meet­ing with An­gela, he told his cre­ative part­ner of a per­son he knew who had died in a plane crash then, 20 min­utes later—and with med­i­cal as­sis­tance—came back to life. “I’ve been told that when you die, time ceases to ex­ist. There is no sound, no images; it’s all about a feel­ing. You en­ter this other di­men­sion.”

It’s no won­der, then, that when pre­sented with the chal­lenge of ex­plor­ing an un­charted ter­ri­tory, they chose the tran­si­tion from the earthly realm to the af­ter­life. “Our work is all about the jour­ney from death to the un­der­world, and the cy­cle of de­com­po­si­tion and re­gen­er­a­tion,” says An­gela.

How can they turn such an ab­stract con­cept into an art­work? The pair have en­gaged a Hol­ly­wood pros­thet­ics ex­pert to help them bring their vi­sion to life. The pros­thet­ics wiz­ard will cre­ate a mould of An­gela’s torso and a col­lec­tion of ar­ti­fi­cial or­gans, which will be placed in­side the cast. It will then be dec­o­rated with plants, flow­ers and but­ter­flies. “These will sym­bol­ise the jour­ney of go­ing back to na­ture,” says An­gela, who will wear the piece so it ap­pears to the viewer that they can see in­side her body. Wing will take a se­ries of pho­to­graphs of An­gela wear­ing this cast, which will be­come the fi­nal work.

They are adamant that the piece won’t be gory or fright­en­ing. “It’s not in­tended to shock,” says Wing. “I want it to look real but I don’t want it to be scary. I want it to be beau­ti­ful, as if An­gela’s corpse is spring­ing new life.” Does the work in­tend to con­vey a mes­sage? Wing pauses and con­tem­plates the ques­tion. “Death is not scary. It’s just a process. It’s an ex­pe­ri­ence. For me, it is not the end of the road.”

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