Nikki Lam - the unshakable destiny_2101

TarraWarra Museum of Art

'the unshakable destiny' is an expansive video trilogy exploring the position of the artist within a placeless present, focusing on the body as the context for its histories and its surroundings.

Nikki Lam - The Unshakable Destiny 2101

Now, Hong Kong people are to run Hong Kong. That is a promise. And that is the unshakable destiny.

 — Chris Patten, Last Governor of Hong Kong at the Handover Ceremony in 1997

'the unshakable destiny' is an expansive video trilogy that explores the position of the artist within a placeless present, with a focus on the body as the context for its histories and its surroundings.

As Hong Kong transforms its resistance from the political to the personal, these films exist to align with these transitions. Through the lens of a migrant settler, the series contemplates the body in time and examines nostalgia and the colonial gaze in an attempt to speculate on a different future through subjective and collective memories. The trilogy explores the opacity of identity and examines the anti-colonial position of the artist through experimental filmmaking and the moving image.

An opening to the trilogy, 'the unshakable destiny_2101' draws focus on the tension and misalignment between histories and cinematic imageries; aesthetics and power; the colonial gaze, and the migrant body. A brief ode to the cinematic work of Wong Kar Wai and Asian-Futurism, this 16mm film presents an imaginary space where the body is both opaque and reflective.

While the broader project intends to challenge the nostalgia for colonial Hong Kong as represented in cinema, this first film focuses upon memories and events where the personal meets the collective.

In a context far away from the city, this body is often forced to inhabit and perform in a liminal and intercultural space of un-belonging. As the image of the artist’s memories and histories is preserved and interpreted through the lens, we enter a speculative space where she confronts her own image over and over again.

As the artist navigates her own agency in art-making during these troubling times, Lam creates a site of translations and memories through this first iteration of the unshakable destiny.

Providing an anchor to the project, this first film is set to be remixed and re-imagined in the expanding series. Performing with and through an adopted language, the viewer is invited to witness the artist’s endless negotiation of subjectivities and truths.

All political views suggested or depicted in this project belong to the artist-director only. The project does not represent the views of its cast, collaborators, or presenters.


About the Artist

Nikki Lam is an artist, curator, and producer based in Narrm (Melbourne). Born in Hong Kong, Lam’s work deals with the complexity of migratory expressions within and beyond the concept of diaspora. Working primarily with moving images, performance, and installation, her work explores hybridity often through studies of rituals, language, and representations, as well as the ephemeral medium of video. With an expanded practice in writing, exhibition, and festival making, Lam is interested in exploring anti-colonial methods in art-making and curatorial practice, as well as relational and community practices.

Her projects have been shown widely across physical and digital spaces including Itoshima International Arts Festival, Japan; Pier 2 Art Center, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Underbelly Arts Festival, Sydney; Cache Space, Beijing, China; Firstdraft, Sydney; West Space, Melbourne; BUS Projects, Melbourne; Australian Centre for Moving Image, Melbourne; The Substation, Melbourne; Due West Arts Festival, Melbourne; The Ferry Gallery, Bangkok, Thailand; Galleria Marcollini, Forli, Italy; and the Over View International Festival of Video Art which toured internationally in 2014–15.

Lam is currently Co-Director of Hyphenated Projects and curator-at-large at The Substation, as well as a board member at NETS Victoria. She has been the Artistic Director of Channels Festival, 2014–2017, and has taken on programming and production roles at Australian Centre for Moving Image, Next Wave Festival, Footscray Community Arts Centre, Peril Magazine, and Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, UK. She has a Bachelor of Visual Arts in Photomedia, Monash University; Executive Master of Arts, University of Melbourne; and is currently undertaking a Ph.D. (Art) at RMIT University. 

This project was commissioned by TarraWarra Museum of Art for Victoria Together and is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria and The SUBSTATION.