As If Never Happened
Performance: 8 hours at Hamilton Artist Inc,. Hamilton, ON, 2015
Two beds face each other, one is covered with peanuts, another one is empty, I shuck peanuts and leave peanuts’ shell on the empty bed. When audiences come, they are invited to shuck peanuts, eat peanuts seeds while leaving peanuts shells on the bed. Audiences can take peanuts to home if they wish, but shells must be left on the bed. Audiences participate both in my presence and absence.
In Chinese tradition, a peanut is an auspicious symbol. When a new couple is married, their older generations in family often hide peanuts under the couple’s bed sheets at their wedding night to wish the couple many children. In Chinese language, the sound/ pronunciation of peanuts means happening; it is a pun that carries sexual connotation when it is used in couples. As a result, the peanut is a symbol of marriage and fertility. In my installation, however, this symbol of marriage and fertility is destroyed. In fact, the gesture of pealing peanuts is a metaphor of making failure. Maybe the reality needs to be destroyed in order to transcend. Maybe the past needs to be revisited in order to reconcile. With the audiences’ help, the process of peeling peanuts itself becomes a way of healing and mending, by doing that, emotion is transformed, and reality is transcended .
This participatory performance is part of my solo exhibition, ” Visual Poetics of Embodied Shame,” for more info about the exhibition, please visit
photo credit: Caitlin Sutherland