Intimate Happenings is a series of participatory performance work where vulnerability is prioritised to become a healing space for myself and others. Each iteration trails behind soft materials touched by participants’ honesty to be reintegrated into sculptures and installations. I invite participants to share their fears with me while I commit to not speaking for the duration. They are then welcomed to paint a colour onto me which when dried, can be peeled off as second skins. These skins generated from human touch will combine with the natural materials of salt and pepper as symbolisms of love in the healing power of tears, saline, the ocean – and fear – the pepper spray across Hong Kong, the United states and here on Gadigal country. To remind ourselves of inherent duality is an act of survival. Making art about pain and personal survival through political trauma is to assert memory over forgetting. This memory collectively fights against the power that continues to wound. I would like my art to make people feel more humane, self-forgiving and empathetic as the experience of isolation overshadows the rest of our daily lives.
Natalie Tso is an emerging artist working on Cammerygal and Gadigal lands of Eora Nation. Born in Hong Kong, she moved to Gadigal country in 2012 and is currently completing Honours in Fine Arts at UNSW Art&Design. Tso creates sculptures and self-performances to examine, transmute and survive trauma. She works with bodily memories and sensations through materials such as hair, facemasks, threads and clay to alchemise her pain. In this process, she translates shock into materiality, rebodies such material and reconfigures each performance’s residues to complete sculptures.
She describes her art and love practice as two threads that coalesce to mend trauma and internally decolonise herself. Her work visualises the healing process to cultivate resilience against fear. Hinged upon the precarious balance of love and fear, remembering and forgetting, survival and grief, her art about suffering aims to reshape intimate and political relationships. Her narratives of injury become political warfare as her healing body, self and artworks redefine healing bodies around her.