The Hong Kong–based artist, writer, and activist Yau Ching created The Ideal/na(rra)tion while living in the United States in the early 1990s. The four-minute work takes the form of a music video for the socialist anthem ‘The Internationale’, performed by Blackbird, an independent rock band from Hong Kong. As its title suggests, The Ideal/na(rra)tion reframes Chinese propaganda by foregrounding emotion and personal association. The influence of wider sociopolitical conditions on individual experience is a frequent theme in Yau’s moving image practice.
Yau weaves together the music with archival audio and video, shaping a potent montage that evokes both the ideals and the violent realities of communist China. She cuts abruptly between disparate film footage: the launch of a large balloon, soldiers, a crowd grasping at newspapers, bodies being loaded onto a truck. She often alters or inverts colours. Her audio sources include the voice of an American man issuing pro-communist instructions and statements—for example, to ‘read Chairman Mao’s books’—interrupted by harsh beeps. In the background, ‘The Internationale’ fades out, returns, and gives way to static. The work closes on the image of a young girl, superimposed with a handwritten claim of the author’s copyright.
Yau Ching (b. 1966, Hong Kong) is a writer, filmmaker, moving image artist, scholar, and educator. An important figure in pushing the development of moving image in Hong Kong, Yau was a member of Hong Kong—based new media art organisation Videotage at its founding stages. Over the past thirty years, Yau has created ten moving image works and four feature films, expressing her ongoing exploration of home, gender, and history.