Enoch Cheng arrived in New York on December 29, 2019, with a new year and a new decade fast approaching. For this independent artist/curator from Hong Kong, his ACC Fellowship was just beginning. Over the next six months, he had plans to research opera, performance, contemporary art practice, and natural science as artist-in-residence at the American Museum of Natural History. Then, with New York on PAUSE, his plans and timeline shifted. The New York he decided to stay in was now a radically different landscape than the one he had entered not so long ago.
As many of us stay at home and the days contract and expand to feel both like a minute and month, there is something about our current situation that resonates with Enoch’s artist statement:
My work explores different modes of narration that construct who we are today…my work questions the way stories can be told, unfolding narratives in a non-linear fashion, simultaneously mutating as they progress. Similar to the way stream of consciousness functions, I use this wandering narrative as a tool to reexamine how we understand stories, aiming to discover new pathways and to reimagine ourselves.
In this global pause, the disparate narratives we inhabit are all the more interconnected, even as physical proximity is replaced by emails, Zoom calls, and telephone lines. With this in mind, it is with gratitude we share Enoch’s correspondence with ACC. Time stamped in three vignettes—a missed call, a playlist, and a discussion—his revised timeline holds one constant: we are all here, we are all together.
Wednesday, April 08, 2020 4:54 PM
You know what? I think I am ready to have my first post like this with this picture:
There is a lot that I want to say as one of the privileged ACC fellows surrounded by their immersive love and care among fear, anxiety, and uncertainties.
What must I say? To you.
Following a week of social-distancing and self-quarantine, I took my first official walk to the park a few blocks away from my house. After some distance of walking, I allowed myself to sit on a bench, half observing the blossoming trees crowned with pink flowers, half swiping on my phone. Suddenly I received a FaceTime call by an unknown number. With hesitation, I picked up the call. A missed-call.
I then picked myself up from the bench. I took a path to slope the gentle hill. I sent a text to the unexpected caller.
We exchanged a brief encounter (the image above).
I guess what I wanted to say to you, here, is:
I am fine, and take care.
No, fine is not the finest word.
And what I was meaning to say is in fact: please treat yourself well.
If you allow me to add just a few more words: Allow yourself to treat yourself well.
I am learning that: allow myself. Yes, there is a lot more to share.
You can call me.
I am here.
Wednesday, April 08, 2020 2:03 AM
I was petrified tonight. I saw a mouse in my house and didn't want to go to bed to expect nightmares. I tried to calm myself down by making a Spotify playlist, thinking of a walk during the period of social-distancing in New York. I used to make playlists all the time when I was running dance workshops in my residency at Akademie Solitude Schloss in Stuttgart, Germany. And for many of my performances, Spotify was also important in the creative process.
Anyway, I made this list with an audience in mind, except that I wasn't thinking of one particular person. So why not share it with everyone. Imagine you are taking a walk outdoors in a locked-down city.
This list is inspired by the impression of America in my head, like making a Hollywood movie, a pop radio show, a soundtrack for 1.5 hours.
Social distancing 1: Outdoors (US)
P.S. from the editors: Enoch has since released more playlists!
Social distancing 2: Mouse in the House
Social distancing 3: Gloomy weather
Social distancing 4: Youth
Social distancing 5: Here comes the world
Saturday, March 14, 2020 4:11:19 PM
I would like to express my heartfelt thanks for the meeting (with ACC) this morning. For me, it is a privilege to develop the trust in an open discussion like this. What is about to happen in America is all new for all of us and may be beyond our capacity to control, but it is reassuring that we know we are here for one another.
What we, every human, need, especially in this condition, is not only money, government policy, housing, data, food, science, public healthcare system, or even health, albeit they are hugely essential. If anything I need to learn more, or what I see ACC is, is not about rationalising cultures and imposing it on others, but to find the platform and vernacular to share, listen, contribute and support, or even move out of the boundaries of cultures.
No matter what, tough times don't last. I hope that our experience will continue to be strengthened with the ACC family as a whole. It must, right?
Grantee Reflections is a platform for ACC alumni to share their collective voice as an international community of artists, scholars, and cultural ambassadors. This is a cultural exchange of words, image, video, and sound from around the world. While our bodies cannot travel, our minds can still meet.