NEGMS 2019: Supplementary Media 

This neon sculpture is first of a body of work under my graduate thesis project, "Neither, Nor and Both: a conceptual storytelling project on losing a sense of belonging." The project is revolved around my identity as a legal alien in the United States, where I slowly become detached to my hometown, Hong Kong, and wallow in flux between identities.

The sculpture depicts the Chinese characters "貼地," a Cantonese colloquialism from Hong Kong that means local or rooted. The concept of this sculpture is to show the irony of a big, neon sign that proclaims localness, yet no one (in the context of Maine, where over 90% of the population identifies as non-Hispanic white) understands it, nor does the sign say where it is local to.

The sign is presented as one character propped against the wall and one on the ground, subverting the common understanding that a sign is to be fixated on a wall, as a metaphor of an identity in flux: I cannot hang the sign because I do not belong here. Conversely, the medium references the fading neon sign culture in Hong Kong, drawing the parallel of my own fading existence as well.

(The image shows a prototype made with LED strips. The final version will be in neon and is currently in production. If the neon piece is not completed by the NEGMS, I will be showing the prototype instead.)

Probably Joel, Local, neon, dimensions variable, 2018. Photographed by the artist.