to whom I direct my longing
Ana Paz and Ninnie Yeo

Sept 23–Oct 23
Vernissage Sept 23, 18:00–22:00
Artist talk Sept 24, 13:00–14:00

Curator C. Grace Chang

This exhibition grew from a prompt given to artists Ana Paz and Ninnie Yeo during this year’s Third Space Residency at Skånes konstförening. Each artist-in-residence was asked to create a video artwork based on a literary passage from Akwaeke Emezi’s 2018 novel Freshwater:

Honestly, Yshwa, I just want to rest. Let me find a place where even if I’m alone, I can sit on my veranda and look at a mango tree and we can just talk. You will be the words in my mouth and the ones that fall from my fingers; you will be the one to whom I direct my longing.

Though various themes stick out in this passage—replenishment, dreaming, longing, kinship—Ninnie and Ana have examined the concept of rest in relation to loss, connection, and communities of color. Complementing the videoworks are specifically designed soundscapes and a pervasive use of blue throughout the gallery. The exhibition title, pulled from Emezi’s own words, brings to mind both the care associated with longing and the occasional directionlessness or namelessness of it. We can long for versions of ourselves, other people, specific goals, or places that don’t even exist anymore.

Ana explores how we carve out places of rest as children of immigrants through connection—and whether we can envision or even reclaim rest as a priority in our everyday lives. Using videos across multiple screens and a large projection, they convey detailed sequences of the body at play, the mind at rest, repetitive motions and actions of kinship. Ana pairs their visuals with multiple soundscapes, one of which is reinterpreted notes from the berimbau, an instrument that is said to “cry” as it is played. This sprawling installation invites visitors to navigate a space between dream and reality, a world where loss exists just at the edges.

Ninnie focuses on the inner world and attempts to project it outward—literally. The room houses a large projected blue sky and a carefully constructed soundscape of modulated cicada calls. These decelerated sounds of cicadas—a classic symbol of rebirth in Chinese art—are set to the rhythm of human breathing. The work examines rest amid chaos and holding space for things that appear disjointed. Drawing on the Buddhist belief of rebirth, Ninnie reflects on the small ways in which we die all the time (metaphorically), and how these deaths can become stages of growth or preparation for connection.

While the artists have each taken a different approach, certain commonalities have arisen. Both artworks use soundscapes that draw from symbolism and traditions in the global south—specifically: Brazil, China, and Southeast Asia—to create layered, immersive experiences. The color blue wends its way through the different installations of both artists, playing with the many associations with blue: a myriad of religious traditions, superstitions, sadness, soothing, or even death. The artists use this space to reflect on rest as something active, or as something that morphs with context.

About The Residency

to whom i direct my longing is the exhibition for our Third Space Residency, which focuses on QTBIPOC artists in Skåne. Though participants can have arts degrees, we choose not to focus on formal backgrounds. Instead, we select based on ideas, talent, and drive. The residency’s overall aims are to create community and opportunity, and to nurture local talent. The term “third space” is used by a few disciplines. Postcolonial theorist Homi K. Bhabha uses it to describe the social and cultural in-betweenness that follows colonization. We use “third space” to reflect on the ways in which marginalized people form spaces where they are not only the ones being talked about—they’re also the ones doing the talking.

Third Space Residency was created by Skånes konstförening’s curator C. Grace Chang.