Qin Shi Huangdi (210–209 BCE), the first emperor of China, erected a massive necropolis to expand his reign to the realm of the afterlife. This included the notorious employment of six thousand terracotta warriors. To my past and future ancestors is a multimedia installation and performance that imagines and responds to an excess of Huangdi’s warrior spirits and yang (male energy) in the afterlife, causing a critical imbalance of power not unlike in the living world. Mixing traditional Chinese symbolism and feminist iconography of the West, Wong reroutes ancient ancestral Chinese worship rituals to conjure and manifest a continuum of feminist revolutionary energy both in the here and hereafter.
To my past and future ancestors centers on a shrine dedicated to the cross ally-ships between the living and the dead, the diaspora and the homeland, BIPOC women, the future and the past. Along with traditional offerings, the shrine is decorated with handmade paper spirit-gifts honoring the wisdom of three spirits: Qiu Jin, a Chinese revolutionist; Audre Lorde, a Black American poet; and Glenna Cardinal, an artist-mother from the Tsuut’ina Nation, whose work collectively provide the tools for an intersectional feminist revolution in the afterlife. As part of the ritual, these gifts are intended to be burned as an offering to past and future ancestors to come. Prior to the burning, a chant will be performed in collaboration with local Asian women and non-binary persons. Lending from Wong’s feminist choral performance, the chant is an evocation of the generosity of female spirits to heal from a collective sense of ancestral losthood, a feeling familiar in the diaspora.
To my past and future ancestors continues Wong’s research into diasporic hauntologies and intergenerational melancholy symptomatic of ancestral amnesia. Through her work, Wong navigates losthoods from her position as a first-generation Chinese-Vietnamese Canadian with parents exiled during the American-Vietnam War. Using poetry, burning, and soundwork as a medium for invocation, Wong often collaborates with diasporic communities within a feminist framework to create rituals of remembrance as a collective form of carework.