We, as a pair of intimate friends from mainland China, were about to be separated. We commemorated each other by traveling to Hong Kong, the farthest place in the country that can be reached without a passport. At the beginning, we just came to travel and watch a nude drama （Dimitris Papaioannou-The Great Tamer）that was strictly prohibited in the mainland. Then we experienced a protest about freedom there——2019 Hong Kong Protest of Extradition Bill, which made us begin to think and discuss about national and ethnical identity. At the same time, we felt more deeply about the information gap under the “one country, two systems” policy, and the information barriers between different countries. After this trip, one of us returned to mainland China, and the other went to the United States for education. We went to find different “freedom” in our paths.
However, soon after, the outbreak of epidemic in early 2020 broke the original “unimpeded” international population flow. Due to the epidemic, the one who studied abroad had to come back to China. Instead of choosing the form of online virtual teaching, she suspended for a year. After the one-year-gap, she will return to the United States in the summer of 2021. For the severe situation of the epidemic, and more importantly, the political restrictions, we could not even arrive to Hong Kong this time, even if it is in the same country. The endless epidemic made our further reunion full of uncertainty, so we decided to “restore” our last parting in real life as a farewell.
In the process of our restoring, we examined the impact of the epidemic on life and began to actively strive to reconstruct the connection with real space. Many things could be marked as completed in 2019, including our memories of the “outside”. After the outbreak, people’s travel is restricted, and the outside world is becoming an isolated island under lockdown and other epidemic prevention policies. We are relying on virtual networks that we never previously expected. In the post epidemic era, on the one hand, life seems to be backing to normal, on the other hand, people are being accustomed to the obstacles to the outside world, and the epidemic prevention regulations of various countries still greatly contain the international population flow. Under the epidemic, the boundaries in real space become difficult to cross. While in the virtual world, people are conducting tribunes, lectures, and performances unimpededly across oceans. The virtual world seems to make up for people’s desire for information acquisitions, life activities, and interpersonal communications. But our active actions cannot replace the fact that the boundaries are more deepened.
This exhibition adopts our personal historical memories to emphasize that the world of distance is the reality that each one of us is going to face in the future. Contrasting the distance between each other (from different nations) and the distance between one country and two systems that the two intimate friends experienced in 2019, and the world with a sense of separation under the epidemic we are facing today, to unfold the idea of diversity of distance. It may be not only the wall between information, but also the gap between real and virtual worlds, or the isolation of geographical distance.