Media Arts + Performance

Laundry Stories (excerpts)

by Ju-Pong Lin

Sleeping Weazel originally exhibited this video and interview in 2012.


Adara Meyers: In this piece, we’re watching a live performance that clearly was not rehearsed with the participants. Can you speak to the experience of purposefully recording the performance for future viewing? Did it affect your “presentation”?

Ju-Pong Lin: My early performances were about intimacy and trust, and they were intended for a small audience where the presence of a camera would impair the sense of intimacy. But I have sometimes regretted not being able to show the work again. This piece was intended to bring a suppressed history into the light, so I felt it was important to document the stories for multiple viewings. I am definitely less comfortable in front of the camera than behind it, so being videotaped did affect my presentation. But I feel the most riveting stories came from the audience. They really made the piece.

AM: How many times have you presented this piece, and in what contexts? Will you tell a story or two about what happened in the different settings?

J-PL: The piece was done in Olympia 4 or 5 times. The one time I did it indoors was for a festival of performance art. I was set off in a corner, so I had only a handful of people telling stories. The stories were lovely, though — one young man talked about how he loved doing the laundry, and what satisfaction he got from turning his jeans inside out before washing, and then folding them neatly while they were still warm. I showed one version of the video to an art class in Ellensburg, where the students were so moved they showered me with memories of laundry. Whenever I have shown it or even talked about it, people always seem to have laundry stories. I love how the stories I hear reveal so much about our culture. Laundry stories cut across class, race, gender barriers — and I continually witness how these stories dissolve those barriers. This work creates greater empathy between people who see it. I feel it is much more effective than the anti-racism workshops I used to do.

To view past exhibitions, please click here.