‘Apparition’ means appearance, especially the becoming visible of a supernatural existence. Deriving from the Latin word apparere, the word was originally used in reference to the epiphany of the Son of God. Taking ‘Apparition’ as its title, this edition of the Macao-China Pavilion alludes to the resurrection of Macao, once known as the City of the Name of God, in the current global political and economic landscape, in a strand of extraordinary tales to be unfolded throughout the exhibition.
The exhibition showcases ceramic works by the Macao artist Heidi Lau. Her work often resembles the crumbling remains of historical relics and features imageries of Taoist and folk mythologies. Influenced by childhood memories of Macao, the artist centres the vernacular experience, perspective, and position in her approach to the subject, so as to probe forgotten spirits, beliefs, and narratives of history.
Raised in Macao, Heidi Lau witnessed the city's colonial times under Portuguese rule and its eventual handover to China. In 2002, Macao saw the influx of global capital as it ended a four-decade casino monopoly and opened up its gaming sector, becoming yet again the humus to be moulded in the hands of others. Under the theme of ‘Apparition’, the artist reveals Macao's complex identities and histories in the style of classical Chinese supernatural fiction. As international capital erects surreal replicas of Venice’s waterways and the Eiffel Tower in Macao, Heidi Lau recreates in Venice an apparition of Macao that reflects vanishing beliefs in a society of spectacle, mourning the loss of collective memory and the sense of place amidst rapid development.
Fragile as it is, clay hereby becomes a sign of reempowerment that allows the individual to reclaim the imagination of their land.