Alvin Luong, The Young Comrade, 2019 . Video (3,840x2,160 4KUHD) 00:20:00 (HH:MM:SS).
Alvin Luong creates artworks based on stories of human migration, land, and dialogues from the diasporic working class communities that he lives and works with. These stories are combined with biography to produce artworks that reflect upon issues of historical development, political economy, and social reproduction; and how these issues intimately affect the lives of people. The artist is currently focused on migration and economic corridors between the South China Sea and the West.
Recently in 2018, Luong was Artist-In-Residence at IOAM (Beijing), lectured at IFP (Beijing), and was a finalist for the EQAA Emerging Digital Media Artist Award (CA). In 2019, the artist exhibited at Boers-Li Gallery (Beijing), pursued research at HB Station (Guangzhou), lectured at YiZhong Art Lab (Shunde), screened at CACHE (Beijing), screened at Alice Yard (Port of Spain), and lectured at Gudskul (Jakarta). In 2021, the artist will exhibit at Modern Fuel (Kingston, CA), New Gallery (Calgary), and VAC Clarington (CA); and lecture at The Factory (Ho Chi Minh City).
AGO: What was the inspiration for this artwork or series?
Luong: The Young Comrade is a project spanning performance, photography and video. The project interprets a play written by Bertolt Brecht as an historical account for the political revolution in China in the mid-20th century. The play, titled The Measures Taken, follows a group of European communists as they aid their comrades inside China. In order to avoid detection by anti-communist authorities, the European communists wear racist yellow-faced masks that magically turn them into ethnically Chinese people. With a documentary-like approach, I attempt a futile search for the traces of the fictional European characters in contemporary Beijing.
AGO: Tell us about a place or a space where you most love making your work?
Luong: My favourite place to make work is on a bed with my phone. It is on a bed with my phone that I carry out my writing and research which is the most generative part of my creative process.
AGO: Are you in dialogue with any other artists or creative peers about your practice? If so, how does this dialogue feed your work?
Luong: To create The Young Comrade I worked with artists, curators, historians, and academics based in Beijing. Conversations with these wonderful peers helped me to integrate the fictional world of Bertolt Brecht’s play into the history of China. These dialogues helped me to discover, recognize, and negotiate my blindspots and projections as an outsider working in a foreign context.
Follow Alvin @alvinluong