Wong Kit Yi // Futures, Again // P! Gallery, New York

 Wong Kit Yi,  October 7, 2015, a.m. / Famulus / Ultramarine , 2015, Inkjet on archival paper, 32 x 24 inches. Private collection. Courtesy of the artist and P!.

Wong Kit Yi, October 7, 2015, a.m. / Famulus / Ultramarine, 2015, Inkjet on archival paper, 32 x 24 inches. Private collection. Courtesy of the artist and P!.

Wong Kit Yi’s Futures, Again, March 8 – April 12, 2017 at P! Gallery in New York was the second part of a two-part project that began in 2015 with her first exhibition North Pole Futures. In anticipation of her upcoming participation in the Arctic Circle Expedition residency in October, 2015, Kit Yi invited potential collectors to customize yet-to-be made works. She asked them to choose a specific color, an unusual word and a specific date which she would use to guide her photographic performances. The 2017 exhibition at P! was the first public showing of the works, as well as her 2017 film, A River in the Freezer.

*Excerpts from Wong Kit Yi's Poem: Moonrise on the first sunless day in Longyearbyen October 27, 2015

*While the moon is like a ruler;
A ruler that can measure time.

Moonlight is refracted light. It is a light of crooked time; time bent, sped up, and slowed down on its way from the sun to the earth. The theory of relativity tells us that light travels at different speeds and that time slows down as the speed of light increases. This interplay between time, light, and memory and our desire to affix them within a structure, an image or a calendar, or to somehow categorize them relative to our own bodies is to try and align those intangible forces which both consume us and elude us.

 Wong Kit Yi,  October 11, 2015, a.m. / Emmetropia / Forbidden Red , 2015, Inkjet on archival paper, 32 x 24 inches. Private collection. Courtesy of the artist and P!

Wong Kit Yi, October 11, 2015, a.m. / Emmetropia / Forbidden Red, 2015, Inkjet on archival paper, 32 x 24 inches. Private collection. Courtesy of the artist and P!

Lunatic
Lunatic
A condition once called lunacy.

It is impossible to distill a moment and such an attempt is arguably the strategy of a lunatic, therefore we must all be in a perpetual state of lunacy. The word ‘lunatic’ derives from the Latin root ‘luna’ for moon, and the late Latin word ‘lunaticus’ - “one who has been struck by the moon.” What a vision! A moonbeam cutting through a dense blackness, striking the unassuming body who, once hit, is gripped by temporary insanity.

 Wong Kit Yi,  October 14, 2015, a.m. / Chanticleer / Dragon's Blood , 2015, Inkjet on archival paper, 32 x 24 inches. Private collection. Courtesy of the artist and P!

Wong Kit Yi, October 14, 2015, a.m. / Chanticleer / Dragon's Blood, 2015, Inkjet on archival paper, 32 x 24 inches. Private collection. Courtesy of the artist and P!

A situation once you encounter you.
Violet or violence?

Turning the gallery into a calendar and placing each image relative to each other on the gallery walls, Kit Yi charts time's passing—the walls a timeline and the photographs physical cuts of time/light placed relative to their inter-subjective relationship to the earth's circle around the sun. Without the simulated temporal context of the gallery walls, their placement would seem arbitrary, for we are no longer attuned to the subtle changes of light that pass from one hour to the next or one day to another. Furthermore, in the light of the Arctic, when the sun does not rise above the horizon from October to March, is a space and time when the light/time of the moon takes over.

 Exhibition vide, Wong Kit Yi,  Futures, Again,  Photo: Sebastian Bach, Courtesy P!

Exhibition vide, Wong Kit Yi, Futures, Again, Photo: Sebastian Bach, Courtesy P!

There is a phase for everything in its time.
And if I missed you inexplicably,
or if you bypass me unexplainably,
we can be assured it will return again.

Like light, water also runs in waves and is never fixed. Water bends light, and light, once captured in the atmosphere, melts ice that holds eons of time/light/memory. The newly released liquid is let loose, running free, gushing and turning and most importantly, rising. It is a phenomenon that feels like a period of insanity, this time on a global scale. 

 Wong Kit Yi,  Still from A River in the Freezer , 2017, HD video with sound, 25 minutes, Edition 5 + 1 AP, Courtesy of the artist and P!. 

Wong Kit Yi, Still from A River in the Freezer, 2017, HD video with sound, 25 minutes, Edition 5 + 1 AP, Courtesy of the artist and P!. 

Poor Tom in "King Lear"
People call him a lunatic.
The Word "lunatic" literally means of the moon
but figuratively denotes of unsound mind.

Kit Yi's wrestles throughout the series with the uncertainty of a future she cannot know, but which she attempts to measure through its shadow; a future traced out by sun/light. In the accompanying 25 minute film, A River in the Freezer, which plays like a karaoke sing-along, the soothing harmonizing of the male and female vocals offer both basic information about the climate research that Kit Yi encountered during her residency, while also interjecting overlapping layers of information and images that indirectly grapple with the uncertain violence of future glacial melt. 

At the beginning of the film Kit Yi echoes a question she would often ask her young self: "how can you put the river in the freezer?" A question that may seem absurd, but as often is the case in Shakespeare, truth can be found in the ramblings of a lunatic, and it behooves us to listen to those struck against the light of the moon.


Harper Brokaw-Falbo is Bay Area based writer and cultural producer. She is a co-founder and editor of Dissolve, and a 2016-17 Whitney Independent Study Program Helena Rubinstein Critical Studies Fellow.