Writing by Yulin Huang as a part of her Young Writer in Residence at Whitechapel Gallery.
I had been confronted with the word oblivion again. I felt it had probably always surrounded me, peered at me with disdain as I began to forget it. Its wily fingers had no form, but were cool to the touch. they fit the spaces between mine perfectly. but it was a clinging. I am so tired of clinging. I want to float, not stay afloat. I want to be the spaces between my fingers; no bolts, lights, motor. I want to exist on a three minute loop outside my body, give up my consciousness to certain toys, puppets, and pets in the night. station myself as translucid silicone in a delightful fashion, smile when being smiled at, sit upright to live because I have the will. I am an artist! and my head will not shatter from impact, yours or my own. I Am an Emerging Artist, and I am emerging, from every crann, glop, lug, and chape. fire and unfire me! Can’t you see the great I’d do? Appreciate me and I’ll appreciate you.. I break into song because tears would be cliché. and dear god, I would rather die to be cliché. I need to be original, the First, a hover above the chest. I need to be considered, held gingerly, placed lovingly like an ikebana flower arrangement; perfect, artificial, oblivious, free, cut, sliced, severed, slashed, picked as flowers should be. Don’t you agree? I’ll sing you to sleep, and you will be strangely comforted by the sudden unconsciousness.
This is a luxury. You work your whole life for just this – nothingness – you do everything for nothing. “I feel tired all the time,” you say, with a statement of intent. “London is a city that wears you out, that takes everything from you, that demands a lot of things from you all the time,” but in the next breath you mutter, “I have thick skin because I live in London. This strength was given to me by London,” and London takes, and London gives. This constant give and take shakes my core til my eyes glaze; over the global chants of Make Me Safe, under the insurmountable waves of widespread crisis, withdrawal, demand, justice;
served, as The Spectre of a World Which Could Be Free, which, just is, on hollow earth. We seek a second life, an alternative during the traumatic, the gloomy, the bottom of the abyss. and so I am an artist. and I am emerging. and I stay afloat so I do not get choked by too much toast in working from home, by racial and climate injustice, by the lamentable impossibility of turning back time and knowing the future. We are constantly scattered in this abstract in-between, what they call the present, the ambiguous, goddamn uncertain present, one you are constantly unwrapping to get to the next thing. and then the next. I Know What I Want. “Oh, you didn’t have to get me anything!” and that you didn’t. as the final layer shedded away, I felt it – I felt it in my flesh, data, memory.
oblivion. at last, I could release the centuries of pressure built in my fingers, they spread as if they are immortal. I pick my belly up from the dirt, brush off the fingers that have left me. Quiet, intimate moments of life, drummer boy, starfish, shave, swim back to me and I let them wash through.
I no longer need to cling on to let go. I simply float, I simply am.
I forget about the public, the world, the andromeda galaxy. being forgotten as they gaze back. I simply am.
I just hope I wake up in my bed.