Tactics of Virtual Memory and Trans Inscrutability in the Works of Wu Tsang

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Stephanie Kang


In her art and research, the artist Wu Tsang poses the question: “Whose voices are heard, whose are silenced?” By incorporating her own perspective as a trans person into her works, Tsang utilizes virtual media to reveal alternative interpretations of the past, and in turn, create new trajectories for the future. Her film Duilian specifically rewrites the story of Qiu Jin—a renowned Chinese feminist poet and revolutionary hero of the Qing dynasty—as a trans narrative. Set in a world that blurs global, temporal, and linguistic boundaries, the film merges historical research with imaginative thinking to uncover the trans stories that have been lost or hidden through time. Through an in-depth analysis of Duilian, this article will situate the film within Tsang’s larger oeuvre to demonstrate how the artist embodies Homay King’s concept of “virtual memory” and Vivian L. Huang’s notion of “inscrutability” to traverse the past, present, and future, continually implementing trans tactics as a means of re-historicization, safety, and survival.

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