Angela Su’s Venice Show Comes Home to Hong Kong
Su's character 'Lauren O', who attempted to levitate the Pentagon, will appear before local audiences for the first time.
The Magnificent Levitation Act of Lauren O from Angela Su: Arise, Hong Kong in Venice (2022). Photo: t-space studio. Courtesy M+, Hong Kong.
Lauren O is a fictional alter-ego created by Su. She was a member of the anti-war group the Laden Ravens, who—in Su's telling—tried to levitate the Pentagon in Washington D.C. in 1967.
The character made her debut in the pseudo-documentary short film The Magnificent Levitation Act of Lauren O (2022). The work was shown alongside others in the Hong Kong Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale.
'As we all know, documentaries are not all objective, but we often assume that they present the truth', the artist shared in a conversation with Ocula Magazine at the time.
The Hong Kong exhibition brings the show home to the city it represented in Venice, restaging the 2022 film alongside other parts of the artist's practice.
'Through the exhibition, I hope to invite visitors to explore Lauren O's fascinating mind and imaginative world,' Su said.
The exhibition presents Lauren O's interconnected explorations into levitation and polyhedral forms through the 2022 film and other works including sculpture and embroidery.
Su plays the role of Lauren O, suspending herself upside down to give the illusion that she is hovering above the ground.
Su also presents Lauren O's journal containing 200 notes and illustrations that detail the plan to levitate the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defence. They also outline her interest in levitation's symbolism as a way of breaking free from societal structures that are static and restrictive like those polyhedral shapes.
According to guest curator Freya Chou, Lauren O 'evokes an aggregate counterculture movement in the 1960s, which is a timely reflection of the current global phenomenon and how counterculture can trigger change amid widespread social tension, allowing alternative ideas to emerge.'
The Laden Ravens' avian symbolism is spread around the exhibition, but Su is curiously coy about the group.
'The protagonist of The Magnificent Levitation Act of Lauren O is a fictional character, but I'm not going to tell you if Laden Raven is real. You'll have to find out for yourself,' she said in 2022.
In the embroidered work, Museum of the Trembling Conspiracy of the Murder of Ravens (2023), Su depicts the raven in her faux-scientific style. Closer inspection reveals an amalgam of organisms including a human foetus.
'This exhibition demonstrates Su's strong commitment to constantly pushing her work,' said M+ Chief Curator Doryun Chong. —[O]