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HENGLi, 2020

HENGLi, 2020, HD video, sound, color, 6’45”, in collaboration with Mengna Da, Courtesy the artist and Athr Gallery, Jeddah

“Sometimes I wonder how Hengli transports everything. Emotions. Sensations. Statements. Opinions. These are all ghosts, slimy, dripping creatures. All these formless expressions, Hengli transports, and shapes. Just like fungus. Their form is defined by their surroundings. You know like how others read you. They read what they see and you become that.”- wE

HENGLi is a collaboration between artist Ahaad Alamoudi and artist and curator Mengna Da. It discusses notions of translation and preservation: how messages form and reform as they are passed down from generation to generation, through different objects, subjects, and environments. Shot in front of Brooklyn’s Immigration Office, the video imagines a future where human beings invent Hengli, a universal language agent that can be understood by anyone. Where all languages – English, Arabic, Chinese, etc. – are banned by the governments to ensure total transparency in their citizens’ communication. Yet, when the duo (wE) lose Hengli, they have to explore communication and memory building through different means… The piece highlights the struggles, friction, and tension that occur when information is morphed through translated dialogues and movements.

Through our research into memory, we found that a lot of it loses its truth through the passage of time and institutional erasure. The more memories accumulate the harder it becomes for us to form a factual image of the past. As a result, we focused our research on the collapse of memory, in parallel with the collapse of translation. How truth is shaped by translation? What is lost and what stays? Who gets to decide what to keep or not? How does memory exist outside of ourselves and when and where does memory fall into ruin?

The piece was created with help from cinematographers:
Xin Fang and Abdullah Alamoudi


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