In Rituals, artist Gloria Wong documents herself and her grandmother performing everyday domestic tasks common in Hong Kong/Macanese culture, including playing mahjong, peeling oranges, making dumplings, and sewing. These quiet activities demonstrate some of the ways in which the artist connects to her grandmother and her cultural heritage.
Wong’s work often considers the multifaceted nature of Hong Kong/Macanese immigrant identities related to her family heritage. The artist states: “As language often serves as a barrier between my grandmother and I, my relationship with her and to my own cultural history has largely been enacted through actions and gestures rather than words.” In pairing images of herself and her grandmother performing the same acts, Wong demonstrates some of the ways in which cultural traditions are passed down, adopted, and practiced in immigrant families where members of the family serve as the primary conduit through which to learn about one’s heritage and traditions.
The muted, neutral background of each photograph and the way the artist and her grandmother look down, focused on the task at hand, creates a feeling of peace evocative of their inner states in relationship to these familiar activities, which have been taught and learned from grandmother to granddaughter and which, through their enactment, demonstrate lineage and cultural inheritance. However, while Wong and her grandmother perform identical tasks that connect them, they are photographed separately, each in their own frames, perhaps to suggest the distance between them.
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