Michelle Kuen Suet Fung
Fung's ongoing (since 2015) oeuvre revolves around a grand narrative of a dystopian world set in the year 2084. She weaves acute observations of the early twenty-first century into an absurd, fantastical landscape populated with plastic-eating humans, flying elephants, and islands floating in the sky. Her works present a fictional geopolitical map of a bizarre future, one impacted by changes in the Anthropocene. Fung’s works span a broad range of media including text, books, drawing, painting, printmaking, installation, performances and animated short films.
She has an upcoming solo exhibition at the municipal museum Art Gallery Boris Georgiev, Varna, Bulgaria, as the invited guest artist of the Quarantine Film Festival (2021) and has held recent solo exhibitions at leading artist-run galleries in Australia (2019) and California (2018,) as well as the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (2019.) Her works have received many awards including Film that Matters, the Montreal International Animation Film Festival, Canada (2019), 50 Best Books for Secondary Students, Hong Kong Professional Teacher's Union (2018), winner of Young Writer's Debut Competition, Hong Kong (2017), the Grotto Award, Hong Kong Baptist University (2015) and Award of Excellence, Fourth Greater China Illustration Awards (2012 and 2016.)
My ongoing oeuvre revolves around building a futuristic world of the year 2084. There are five imaginary countries in total: Contradictoria, the Aristocratic Union, Dreamland, Northlandia and the Republic of Strata. These five micro-narratives will eventually weave together a grand narrative of year 2084, portraying my imagined futuristic geopolitical world in the Anthropocene.
For this exhibition, I selected a video documentation of Polluta Entry Interview Performance, where participants answer absurd political and environmental interview questions to earn residency at the utopian artist colony, Polluta. Even though the work was conceived in 2015, the work echoed strongly with the Californian audiences in 2018 in the heat of Mexico/US barrier. In 2020, the idea of inclusion/exclusion still rings strong in the American psyche in the wake of the Black Life Matters movement.
The imaginary futuristic narrative is informed and shaped by global sociopolitical and environmental development in real time. In 2018, I created my first imaginary map of 2084. even though the work was aesthetically successful, I was discontent with the result. Unsurprising since the narratives of all five imaginary countries had yet been fleshed out. It was impossible for accurate depiction geographic features and each country's geographic location in relation to one another. I plan to create an updated map every few years, reflecting realtime changes.
The second map, edition year 2020, is informed by both the tradition of antique Chinese maps that look more akin to landscape paintings than accurate navigating tools and by the ancient Chinese myth on the plague demons. Plagues were a regular occurrence in ancient China. People did not understand medicine and attributed the diseases to the Demons of the Plague. They conjured up the Great Gods Against the Plague to "fight" against the demons, sending the Gods, along with the demons, away on lavishly decorated boats. There are still active annual rituals to drive away the demons of the plague in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan.