Art Issues- Biennials
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Biennale, the Biennale
at 3:40pm on 22nd September 2016
There will be stories. "So You Are Old by the Time You Reach the Island."1
So [that] you are old by the time you reach the island, there will be stories.
by the time you reach the island
you are old. There will be stories.
What sentiment(s), which one(s), to hold up, to let go?
That thing 'smoking'. Many have written about smoking. "Richard Klein in Cigarettes Are Sublime reasoned that smoking alone distinguishes humans from the animals. Music and art making provide the same affirmation."2
(in silence: Animals don't put on make-up or manufacture weapons of mass destruction. Humans do. Do these peculiarities distinguish us from them insofar as we are humans?)
Here's George Bataille in a similar vein. "The fatigued mind relieves itself in a self-affirmation as nonintellectual as possible. In this, smoking is nonetheless an expressly human attitude, and I do not think there is any comparable animal attitude. When smoking, the human mind not only surrenders itself to a squandering that is indefensible according to sound reason: it is above all a squandering deprived of meaning, deprived of any knowledge of itself; such deprivations allow absence to appear."3
It is a sound walk to take place in London. It's about someone having to fill in an exit survey upon being released from a mental asylum. He gives a particularly long answer to an ordinary question.
What is it that you fear? Is it fear in You Are Old By The Time You Get There? Is it fear in the certificate marking your ownership of a piece of forgotten land? Is it fear in making the neon sign "Nothing We Did Could Have Saved Hong Kong It Was All Wasted", fear that marks failure and the refusal of failure?
The fear of oblivion, the greatest fear of all. What is neon light anyway? How much darkness does it need to glow?
From here, there is less confidence and more fear for being remembered, for not being able to leave and to be left behind.
In every spectacular gesture, there is always a spectre.
It's still Ah Lok4. And me.
(in silence: the humor and horror of being still me)5
1. Title of Samson Young's multimedia walk that took place on the occasion of Art Basel Hong Kong 2016.
2. Cited from Samson Young’s "When I have fears that I may cease to be, what would you give in exchange for your soul", yet to be published writing for his upcoming sound walk in London.
3. George Bataille. The Unfinished System of Nonknowledge. Edited by Stuart Kendall. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 2001: 6.
4. Main character in "So You Are Old by the Time You Reach the Island".
5. All of the above are inspired by conversations between Samson Young and Yeung Yang during August 29 and 30, 2016, reconstituted here with imagination, memory, the written word, and the magic of dialogue.