The Mystery Of The Lady In Red 紅女郎傳說


Surface Tensions 2020
Part 1: Alt-Truths, More Than Fiction

24 April – 01 May 2020
Opening: Fri 24 April 2020, 6-9pm
#surfacetensions2020 #ST20 #movingimage #artunderlockdown #documentary #feminism
A mockumentary created by Macao-based artist HIO during a residency at CT20 (Folkestone) – that plays with the mystery tale of a female ghost ‘The Lady in Red’ to explore the idea of double displacements in contemporary Asian female identities experienced both in the UK against prejudices towards one’s ethnicity & gender, and in China against rising nationalism in the post-colonial context.
A woman is conducting research on a mystic female ghost haunting a coastal town. Known by the locals as the ‘Lady in Red’, the female ghost always appears in a red dress, and within the shoreline where the waves can reach. Where the ‘Lady in Red’ comes from and why she is trapped at the edge of the sea remains a mystery. [Hio Lam Lei]

From Macau (China), Hio Lam Lei is an artist who works primarily with moving-image and sculpture. In the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown, Hio spent over a month in Folkestone in an artist residency to create a new piece of moving image work – a mockumentary entitled 

⁠’The Mystery of Lady in Red’. Drawing from post-colonial theories, the work explores the sense of disorientation experienced when she tries to relocate through personal history, the cultural heritage of her ethnicity, and gender in the UK. Foreign, Asian, Chinese and female, the image of the ‘Lady in Red’ manifests a resistance to the pre-conceived and stereotyped identity of a particular social group, and the moving-image work narrates the myths surrounding self-concealment and self-discovery.

The work-in-progress installation was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the implementation of social distancing. Opening as part of May 2020’s Last Fridays Folkestone event, audiences were able to catch a preview of Hio’s work throughout the evenings in the week leading up to it’s opening when passing Tontine Street during their daily exercise.

The production is supported by Instituto Cultural de Macau.

Gallery Image Credit:
[1-4]: Film stills from ‘The Mystery of the Lady in Red’ by Hio
[5]: Nina Shen-Poblete

Hio Lam Lei is a multidisciplinary artist working across sculpture, moving image, printmaking, photography and text making. She currently lives and works in Macau, China. Her current research looks into one’s formation of subjectivity, and how linguistic structurisation shapes one’s perception of self and identity, particularly within the context of post-colonial studies and feminist theory.

Surface Tensions 2020 presents art that is deeply immersed in the traumas, struggles and violence of our time, from the perspectives of those on the margins. It subverts established powers and narratives through collective acts of creative resistance, and questions our relationships to Western identity and nationalism. 

ST20 Part I: ‘Alt-Truths, More than Fiction’ – Female-led Expanded Cinema is a site for experimentation & activism. Running from April – June 2020, the programme brings together five artists working in the expanded field of moving image: Hio Lam Lei, Sharon Daniel, Hijack, Jing Xie and Renèe Helèna Brown. Using the format of ‘documentaries’ and through a feminist epistemological lens, they freely and playfully juxtapose narratives, myths, archival materials and personal testimonies, using devices such as satire & fictive constructions to explore the unstable nature of perceived realities, cultural identities, structural racism, consumption, romance, and our relationships to Western nationalism.

Surface Tensions 2020 is curated by Nina Shen-Poblete and Tomas Poblete, produced by CT20 

The project is kindly supported by Arts Council England, Roger De Haan Charitable Trust and Creative Folkestone.

Artist in Conversation: Hio Lam Lei – ‘Post-colonialism, Nationalism & the Search for the Feminine Image’

Against the backdrop of an eerily deserted Creative Quarter amidst the worsening COVID-19 pandemic, CT20’s co-director, Nina Shen-Poblete speaks with Surface Tensions 2020 artist Hio, tracing personal histories, language & heritage to explore the porous nature of cultural identities: on what it means to be Chinese and a woman today.