April 22, 6pm, Keller Gallery, 7-408

“To all those who are (still) trapped in the endless loop.”

Recently published in the Thresholds 50: Before/After, Kwan Queenie Li’s (SMACT ’22) new video/essay Poems are the Unleashed Tides of Muteness revolves around notions of amnesia, tragedy, lunacy, poetry, and insomnia in waves of decolonization and nationalism. Excerpts of the writing are narrated throughout the video, which consists of five identical cycles of stop-motion photographs. The imagery was taken in Hong Kong by the artist on a metro journey during the anti-extradition law protests of 2019 when forthcoming stations were abruptly shut down due to social unrest. The collateral damage of this safety control measure trapped passengers in an endless loop, which is referred to by the repetition of visuals in the video. In this journal, the artist has adapted a print version of the work where selected texts from the writing are outlined as a silhouette of the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway (MTR) map with blocked-out stations. 

“Time slows as Kwan Queenie Li navigates the disruption of Hong Kong’s underground as a space figuratively and literally beneath the political protest.” – Thresholds 50: Before/After editors.

The work reflects on the linearity of progression, and suggests that a hinterland of hope perhaps resides in an artistic realm that is often dismissed and disregarded, where counter-ideologies subside in an inaudible cacophony. 

In the launch event of the journal and exhibition on April 22, Queenie will be collaborating with Cristobal Garcia Belmont (SMACT ’23) to transform the video essay into a live performance with multi-channel sound, spoken words, and adapted Cantonpop music. 

Established in 1992, Thresholds is the annual peer-reviewed journal produced by the MIT Department of Architecture. Thresholds 50: Before/After is edited by Jola Idowu, Antonio Pacheco, Ardalan SadeghiKivi, and Meriam Soltan.