Choy Ka Fai Q&A

LIVE DREAMS TRANSCEND Artist Kitty Callaghan

Choy Ka Fai is one of four guest curators for the LIVE DREAMS series occurring during Liveworks 2021. Ka Fai has curated TRANSCEND, presenting works that explore the aspiration for self-transcendence, and the psychological phenomena of liminal spaces. We sat down with the artist to discuss Liveworks, the intersection of technology and art, and more! 

Ka Fai, this is your third Liveworks! We have so loved presenting your works in the Festival over recent years [Soft Machine, Liveworks 2016; Unbearable Darkness, Liveworks 2019] and we are extra thrilled to welcome you back as a Guest Curator for Live Dreams this year. Could you share some of your most memorable experiences of the Festival with us?

Hello and nice to be back again…virtually this time. I have experienced many fantastic moments and exchanges at the festival. I always felt that the next edition has been better than the last one. One highlight was after my performance [Unbearable Darkness] in 2019 where I felt that a particular reviewer connected with everything that I tried to express in my performance, which is rare for me. It reflects a festival that has grown and evolved over the years as a community, which champions experimental art forms. It was a truly heart warming moment for me to feel that connection.

You have made and toured experimental performance work across Asia, Europe and beyond. Where does Liveworks sit for you in an international artistic landscape?

From my own experience, I have encountered very few festivals that encourage artistic experimentation and take so many risks in cultivating expressions that challenge the norm, or the existing infrastructure of art ecologies. Liveworks positions itself at the edges of a critical and professional platform, making space for many to “play”.

Your recent works incorporate ever more complex experiments that fuse technology with live performance. With Unbearable Darkness—which we’ve seen at Liveworks—and your most recent project Cosmic Wander, the spirit world also becomes an important player. What has brought you to this fascinating intersection of technology, live performance and the spirit realm?

Cosmic Wander was a natural progression for me as I shifted from the paranormal to the supernatural worlds. It started with a very native experiment of digitalizing (using motion capture) the dance of shamans who are possessed by a spiritual presence, in an attempt to capture the essences of Gods. What could I learn from capturing the invisible? Recently, I’ve started to realise that my own process of investigating the spiritual world could be a desire to understand our own human condition more. Gods and Ghosts exist because of our human needs. 

How did these ideas inform your conception of TRANSCEND for your Live Dreams event, and how do they manifest in the works being presented at the event?

TRANSCEND was conceptual expansion from my own research in Cosmic Wander, specifically from the idea of self-optimisation with the rise of Western individualism and capitalism. These radical selves gave birth to new gurus/cults that counter the historical superpowers of traditional religions. The idea of "self" today is more important than ever: the "self' needs coaching, needs healing, needs to be expanded. I was interested to gather works that think about the liminality of us, to seek the thresholds of our bodies and the realms we inhabit.

How did you find the process of curating TRANSCEND?

It was refreshing to see so many interesting proposals, especially during the pandemic where it somehow reflects many artists seeking alternatives to their usual creative processes.

If you would like to attend LIVE DREAMS: TRANSCEND, read more and get your tickets here

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