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Bridget Lu

The weight of perception is a red pocket

30 minute performance
00:05:00 [hh:mm:ss]
The lion dance is often practiced by diasporic Chinese communities as a way to reconnect with their culture. However, as each school teaches differently, and each performer develops their own style and persona, the dance also facilitates the re-defining of one's cultural understanding. Given the opportunity to reinvent Chinese culture through the lion performance, what would I want to say? Because the lion dance originated from kung fu, non-male performers are stereotypically thought to be unable to handle the weight and physicality of the costume. However, women, nonbinary, and queer lion performers also carry the weight of patriarchy, representation, culture, and stereotype. Physical training can alleviate the literal weight, but the added weight of this perceived weakness is much more difficult to carry. How do we make space for ourselves in the lion dance, and in Chinese culture, where many of these beliefs are mirrored? These questions are explored by building and performing in a Chinese lion costume. Through a lion’s exaggerated, playful persona, viewers in Yonge-Dundas square are invited to hang weighted red pockets filled with metal onto the lion, physically quantifying the conceptual weight of patriarchy, representation, culture, and stereotype. The movements begin quick and nimble, gradually becoming slower as the costume grows heavier. In a parallel video, the struggle of moving with this weight is shown, before the envelopes are cut off, shedding those undesired cultural aspects. The performance becomes a test of endurance, assertion, and personal comfort; and the lion, a journey of cultural preservation and reinvention.

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Sample installation
Sample installation

Work by

Bridget Lu