Provisionally titled, this project is being developed with the support of FLAMIN Fellowship 2022/23. This project is still in research and development phase. Below is a synopsis of the project and is subject to change.
Through juxtaposing Cantonese polytheistic opera performance, customs on ancestral worship, Bert Heilinger’s family constellation therapy, and genetics and theoretical physics, the project seeks to explore the impact our ancestors have on our current actions and realities. How getting to know and honouring our ancestors might help us understand the Self and explore its therapeutic significance and healing capacities. The aim is to rethink other ways we can relate to the world - that as individuals, we are not merely secluded islands with consciousness housed in our bodies, but we interconnect with one another in the past and present. Primarily a film, the ambition of the project extends beyond into an exhibition programme. I envisage a cross-disciplinary programme of events encompassing the realm of visual art, science and healing practices.
The Cantonese opera Shengongxi - literally meaning “opera performance for the deities as a pious deed” - is performed at Taoist festivals as a form of entertainment shared amongst humans, deities and spirits. It combines ceremonial, religious and sacrificial elements into a spiritual amalgam of art and custom. It is characterized by lively music, elaborate costumes and face painting. It sets the scene for the film and brings forth the significance of those came before us; the idea that the world is cohabited not only by humans but also that which is unseen and unknowable.
The aspect of ancestral worship will be introduced via my personal familial footage where offerings were made to honour their ancestors. The act of honouring one’s ancestors is also explored in Heilinger’s family constellation therapy where the seeker’s ancestral relationships is unveiled in a group role play exercise which sheds light on the issue that they wish to resolve. These practices have been relegated as mysticism but with the latest development in genetics and physics, a rational framing of them is emerging. For example, it is now known that trauma and emotions can be passed down through generations; quantum physicists are investigating the role of will and intention in manifesting reality. By delving into the territory of science, I hope to bridge the gap between the two and help us understand the ancient wisdoms passed down.