A vague childhood memory of my mother forms the starting point of this autobiographical piece: I heard a beautiful and flowing tune emanating from the piano room one day. The door was half-closed. I faintly saw the back of someone playing. It resembled my mother, although apart from this moment, I don't recall her ever playing. She claimed she couldn’t play. So, who was that woman? Did I conflate the memory of a different person with mother because she was on my mind? Mother was occasionally stern, like a soldier, when she sat with me during practice sessions. At times, she would become almost hysterical. However, that memory revealed a rare and poetic moment.
Where did it come from…?
The boundaries between fantasy, dream and memory are blurred. They are interconnected. I ponder how memories work, how they intertwine and distort, and how we remember things.
The piano piece I played in the video is Bach’s Invention No.13 in A minor, BWV 784. I used to practice it for my piano exam as a child. Bach’s music can often be played at different speeds, resulting in completely different feelings. My mother forced me to learn to play the piano, and initially, I despised it. However, over time, I fell in love with it. Only one time, I experienced a state of flow: completely losing myself and everything else. Remembering the years of piano practice calls up complex emotions towards my mother. Playing this piece reminds me of her. She is not only my mother but also an individual woman. Sometimes, when I separate my perspective as her daughter, I catch glimpses of her other identity. It evokes a strange feeling, considering someone who is so close to me.
I have also incorporated themes from my dissertation into this piece, utilising them as both text and voice to describe how the Chinese political structure has shaped my family and me. It is filled with hidden pain, stemming from the deep love, understanding, and empathy of my parents, brother, and other family members.
This work also draws on my own experience of consultations with my therapist, influencing how I present my experiences and struggles. I directly develop and weave these ideas into the narrative of my video. Additionally, it incorporates theories of Winnicott, focusing on attachment, early development, object permanence, and maternity. It relates to my experience of my own mother and how ordinary instincts reveal a complex web of dependencies and relationships between mother and child: absorbing, using, giving, and taking.
I am no longer in touch with my mother, neither physically nor emotionally, but we remain connected in various intricate and intangible ways.