Asleep, Dream, in a Feverish Land
mixed-media and sound installation, dimensions variable, 2019
Starting in 2016, Kuo began dismantling a piece of carpet in an extremely prolonged, self-torturing, and neurotic manner. Through repetitive and almost ritualistic manual labor, she carefully pulled the threads apart, loosened the wool, and turned them into numerous solid pom-poms.
Over time, her body has developed a pattern of movement most efficient for the laborious task. She can stay in the same position for hours with both arms being the only body parts that frantically move. It is as if the whole body was isolated in a vacuum, without growing or aging. Sometimes, bits and pieces of mixed emotion and memory are like fleeting snowflakes, fluttering and then vanishing in the blink of an eye. Sometimes, like heavy rain bucketing down for a whole day, emotion and memory persist until a bitter, astringent belief grows out of it — as if one could believe the time is under control; as if one could keep carrying out the act of dismantling ceaselessly.
Continuing the trajectory of Kuo’s artistic practice, this piece of carpet explores questions on essentiality: how can “existence” be portrayed when the “subject” is a perpetual motion, a verb? She records various sounds produced by tools used during manual labor, like sounds of dismantling the carpet and making pom-poms; she then further combines them with sounds that convey “the essential state of human’s existence,” such as sounds of sleeping, eating, and waves of emotional fluctuation—what she calls mental labor.
In the installation, soft materials like wax and silicone rubber are used to create a tree-branch-like structure prodding through the carpet from the bottom. Different objects are well integrated with one another, magnifying their anthropomorphizing effect. The work exemplifies the tension of entangling contestation between subjectivity and creative practice.
Sound Designer: Yannick Dauby
Actress: Tseng Hsin-Yen