My Son, My Son,
What Have Ye Done?
This is an installation consisting of a sacrificial altar where a piece of soap is slowly deteriorated by dripping water and eventually snapped in half by the weight of its burden. It is a metaphor for my slowly deteriorating familial relationships as well as my mother’s physical wellbeing. At the time of writing, I have not been home to China for 9 years. Both domestic conflicts and the national lockdown have made the cost of family reunion increasingly extreme. Death and illness are impending. My mother’s name, Jiezhen (洁贞), means cleanliness and chastity—a paternal projection, on her father’s part, of how his daughter ought to be. Now filled with anxiety, my mother has taken this projection to the level of clean freak and hypochondriac, with a hyper-vigilance towards sexuality. The soap serves as a symbol of the heteronormative popular cultural associations between cleanliness and a mother/wife’s duty.