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Tao Hui: A Window on Popular Culture
Tao Hui: A Window on Popular Culture
3:16
Video Transcript

(Original language: Mandarin)

TAO HUI: My work is influenced by the experiences and environment of my upbringing. I was born in a small mountain village and my parents were rural teachers. While they were at school during the day, I was home alone watching TV. But that TV only had one channel, so a lot of programmes were re-runs. That experience was like opening a window, letting me see what was going on outside.

For me, pop culture is what people are most familiar with. I've always wanted my work to be closer to the public to allow people without an art background to relate to it. That’s why I choose pop culture as my mode of expression.

I designed these nine objects to resemble tombstones. Each of them has an embedded TV screen. In front of each TV is an armchair so that audiences can sit in front of the tombstones and watch the videos. I think the short films tie in quite well with the tombstone form because to me, they all deal with finality and memory.

When I was working in Japan, I was speaking with a lot of my friends there and found that among a lot of Japanese young people, there's a widespread belief that the future is unreliable, so they focus on the present.

This story is largely about a mother and her son, who likes studying history. He's a gifted writer, so he writes several books. He loses faith in the world, perhaps because his studies go too deep and he decides to kill himself. This scene is of the mother phoning the dad, explaining the death of their son.

The stories are really about death, dissolution, finality, and endings. An audience member might not watch all the videos. They might not watch all the screens one by one. After watching maybe three or four short films, I think that they can already appreciate the work in its entirety because they can make the connection between those stories. I think the story…the entire work would still be complete for them.

For me, pop culture is what people are most familiar with. I've always wanted my work to be closer to the public to allow people without an art background to relate to it. That’s why I choose pop culture as my mode of expression.

Tao Hui

Tao Hui incorporates folk culture and traditional art forms into his practice, through painting, video, and graphic works. He uses technological procedures and elements from traditional Chinese culture to question globalisation, virtual relationships, and hegemonic thinking.

Displayed on nine television monitors—resembling headstones installed in three rows of three—the work featured in this video, Hello, Finale! (2017), consists of short films depict characters speaking on the telephone. Although the protagonists differ in age, gender, and occupation, their conversations all relate to the end of time, death, and finality. Without a specific beginning or end, the films encourage viewers to imagine and interpret the development of the stories themselves.

Tao shot Hello, Finale! during an artist residency in Kyoto with local actors, but the Japanese dialogue follows a script that draws from Chinese news stories. He translates complex individual sentiments of confusion and anxiety into a universal social phenomenon. The fragmented narratives are constructed with tender, delicate visual tropes and finely designed costumes and props that contrast starkly with the sombre dialogue.

This video was originally published on M+ Stories.

Video Credits

Produced by

M+

Producer

Adam Studios

Curatorial Research

Pi Li, Isabella Tam, Kary Woo

M+ Video Production

Chris Sullivan, Jaye Yau, Angel Ng

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