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Chun Hua Catherine Dong uses her body to play a couple in domestic lives: she wears the husband’s clothing to present his presence. wife is left and husband is right.Absend-Husband-Chun-Hua-Catherine-Dong-04Chun Hua Catherine Dong uses her body to play a couple in domestic lives: she wears the husband’s clothing to present his presence. wife is left and husband is right.Absend-Husband-Chun-Hua-Catherine-Dong-02Absend-Husband-Chun-Hua-Catherine-Dong-05Absend-Husband-Chun-Hua-Catherine-Dong-06

70” x80”, Ink jet prints

Absent Husband is a performance that consists 12 pieces of 70’’ x 40” photographs. Absence is a form of presence. The series of photographs is divided into diptychs acting as mirrors in which the absence of the other is reflected as a form of presence. This work tells stories of failure in romantic relationship through symbolism, gesture, and language. In this work, I use my body to play a couple in domestic lives: I wear the husband’s clothing to present his presence. The wife is on the left, and the husband is on the right. This division also physically enacts the separation of the couple. The body in this work is not only an interface that functions as a communicative vessel, but also a deeply felt expression of subjective reality. This work transcends personal experience and reality. It is an embodiment of a melancholic longing for an unrecoverable past and a memento mori as a constant reminder of the inexorable passage of time.

photo credit: Phoebe Jin

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Chun Hua Catherine Dong advertised herself in various media and asked strangers to take her to their homes to live with them for a day as their wives.Chun Hua Catherine Dong advertised herself in various media and asked strangers to take her to their homes to live with them for a day as their mail-order brides.Chun Hua Catherine Dong advertised herself in various media and asked strangers to take her to their homes to live with them for a day as their wives or mail-order brides.Chun Hua Catherine Dong advertised herself in various media and asked strangers to take her to their homes to live with them for a day as their wives or mail-order brides.Chun Hua Catherine Dong advertised herself in various media and asked strangers to take her to their homes to live with them for a day as their wives or mail-order brides.Chun Hua Catherine Dong advertised herself in various media and asked strangers to take her to their homes to live with them for a day as their wives or mail-order brides.Chun Hua Catherine Dong advertised herself in various media and asked strangers to take her to their homes to live with them for a day as their wives or mail-order brides. Husbands-and-I-Chun-Hua-Catherine-Dong-07Chun Hua Catherine Dong advertised herself in various media and asked strangers to take her to their homes to live with them for a day as their wives or mail-order brides. Husbands-and-I-Chun-Hua-Catherine-Dong-03

video is available upon request

I started the Husbands and I performance in 2009; I wore my Chinese traditional dress, walking on streets in Vancouver and asking white males to have photo taken with me by suggesting them to be my husband for a minute. I have had photo with 325 men. In September 2010, I advertised myself in various media as “an exotic, compliant and artistic Asian girl, looking for a white husband who would like to take me to his home and live with him for a day as his mail order bride.” I lived with men who responded my advertise a day. This performance ended in June 2011.

I emigrated from China to Canada eight years ago. I regard the whole process of immigration as a marriage, and myself is like a mail order bride. I married Canada that I had never seen before, suddenly transforming myself from a Chinese to a Chinese Canadian or Canadian. My identity is not constructed by Canadian history, its culture or its beautiful landscapes, but the white males who are beside me.  The physical encounter between me and the white males actually is an ideological confrontation between me and the Western social and political landscape that I feel I don’t belong to. The process looking for a white man is a process of looking for home. However, unfortunately, the home is temporary and the relationship is ephemeral. Nevertheless, by exploring intimacy with them, I try to not only reconfigure the established centred power that the privileged white males embody, but also question whether the culturally interpreted Chinese female body, both as a foreign subject and object, can be invested and exploited, most importantly, question whether the concept of the borders still exists although physical borderline is crossed.

 video credit: Sarah Hudson, Maksim Bentsianov, Karlo Melgarejo, Jerry Tai

 

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