THE SPLASH AND A LAST DROP 2011
In 2011, Yu-Chen Wang won an artist’s residency at Manchester’s Chinese Arts Centre (now known as Centre for Contemporary Chinese Art, or CFCCA). The experience established a long-term relationship between the artist and the city whose history lies at the heart of the UK’s Industrial Revolution. Given the opportunity to develop work at a listed heritage site, Victoria Baths in Hathersage Road, Manchester, Yu-Chen Wang created an ambitious multimedia project, based on a short science fiction story, A Last Drop, by Bob Dickinson. A new series of drawings and sculptures was accompanied by a film, based on a live performance that took place in one of the empty Edwardian public baths and in the more futuristic setting of the polished metal Turkish baths. Audiences attending the immersive performance watched and heard costumed performers and an actress playing the part of Yu-Chen, plus a choir, utilising different spaces in and around the sizeable, static, sculptural setting of the empty, echoing baths. Echoes not just of sound but of an earlier industrial and colonial era seemed also to haunt the work on every level. The aim of the work’s storyline was to refill the baths endlessly, but the stylised, ritualised nature of the performance and film realised a new aspect of the artist’s practice in which history, community and personal self-discovery all seemed to mingle and inter-act.