The year of the mouse kicking out the lying pig that stole from Lady Justice
Justice and law are intertwined. In a democratic society, justice depends on the rule of law; but in a society ruled by law, the justice system is a weapon.
Justice is often represented by a blindfolded Iustitia (Lady Justice) holding a sword and a pair of scales, which is ironic because swords are offensive weapons. However, when a government aims to oppress its own people, even that pair of scales is a weapon.
The past year has seen many governments oppressing their own peoples, who then reacted by rising up in resistance. In the year 2020, as the year of the “golden[Note 1] mouse” kicks out the year of the “earth[Note 2] pig,” may oppressed people around the world be rid of these lying creatures that we’re not supposed to talk about.[Note 3]
2020 in Chinese lunar months
I remember calendars in my childhood — pocket calendars, desk calendars, wall calendars, and of course organizers. They all had Western dates printed in big letters, then near them, Chinese dates[Note 4] printed in small or even tiny print.
Chinese dates aren’t important after all, except when you need to know the date of some traditional festival. As little kids, all we probably knew was the dates of all these festivals shifted around.
How would it feel to have the experience reversed, to have Chinese dates in big letters but “normal” Western dates in small print, to have Chinese festivals fixed but our Canadian holidays shifting around? In other words, what if the Western system did not win?
Will such an organizer be too awkward for us? Or still useful?
Attack of the Zombie Blue Aardvarks and the Return of Totalitarianism
On Copyediting-l, a mailing list used by copy editors, people used to have the custom of disguising information that should not be divulged with references to aardvarks. I borrowed the idea and used aardvarks to suggest a subject that might be considered confidential, undivulgeable, taboo: police brutality.
In 2014, police in Hong Kong started acting irrationally. It felt like they had become zombies, and in 2015 I expressed this feeling in a blog post with the cryptic reference Attack of the Zombie Blue Aardvarks and the Return of Totalitarianism. When I expressed the same feeling in an image the next year, I could not but use the same reference to name my work.
Things have now devolved to a level far worse than what happened in 2014.
Untitled (ceramics display)
When I did my thesis I discovered that braille dots on leather-hard bowls could fall off. Rather than discarding the defective casts, I decided to transcribe what the defective braille would have said if a blind person tried to read it.
I felt brailling was like translation, and if we don’t correct the mistakes, who would know? (After all, an exhibition I saw at The Power Plant, in 2013, had the wrong braille and I bet no one else noticed.) But I thought these errors should be exposed for what they are, in a form that sighted people can understand.
I glazed all these defective pieces blue, because it’s “blue” for us to not care if the messaging isn’t coming across.
My name is Ambrose and I’m a visual artist, graphic designer and word tinkerer based in Toronto, Canada.
As a settler, treaty rights might not sound like something I would care about, but I self-identify as a 1.5-generation Hong Kong Canadian and so much has happened in my homeland that I can say I’ve experienced a colonial power trampling on treaty rights. These feelings inform some of my work and I find myself more and more unable to detach from them.
How to reach me
Toronto is in Canada’s “Eastern” time zone, which is currently 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT−5).
© 2020–2021 Ambrose Li
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