Set Me on My High Places

Performance: 2 hours at Thomas Young Gallery, Boston,  2016


Chun Hua Catherine Dong looks at a dead deer with love, the deer and her become one

Chun Hua Catherine Dong bows deeply to the dead deer

Chun Hua Catherine Dong kisses the dead deer passionately

Chun Hua Catherine Dong's neck is attached a stone, and she bows deeply to the dead deer

Chun Hua Catherine Dong touches the dead deer gently

Chun Hua Catherine Dong shows her deepest love and respect to the dead deer

I take some hair from a deer taxidermy and glue them on my back as if the hair grows from my skin. I stand in front the deer, bend my head deeply, the reason I bend my head so deeply is because my neck is attached a stone on floor with a string, and the string is too short to allow me to stand straight. I slowly move my hands towards the stone, lift the stone up to my chest, and straighten my back.  I reach the deer and kiss it gently while trying to keep my body in balance.  After the kiss, I release the stone on the floor and back to the bow my head to the deer again. The gestures of reaching the deer, kissing the deer, and bowing to the deer, are all in slow motion and repeated for 2 hours.

“Set me on My High Places” explores relationship between humans and animals, suffering and loss through symbolic and metaphoric gestures. While humans are regarded as the cultural animals, animals are often seen as another kind of people: the other, the animal other. This work expresses longing for re-connection from both humans and animals, striving to find a harmonious relationship through an animistic worldview. It reflects on our colonial roots of the wildlife and nature, questioning how wildlife and nature have been through from a symbol of a divine power in ancient time to a commodity for sale in nowadays. Through retracing our culture’s engagements with animals, I hope to expand horizons in order to better understand our roots and consequences of marginalizing our animals and nature.

Photo credit: P.T. Sullivan