Black and white photograph, with a man to the right of the image, looking out at the viewer from the photo. Several (what appear to be) abandoned bicycles are piled on the corners to the left and right of the image.
‘Eviction in Shenzhen’, Part 2, 2019, Seecum Cheung

Jamie Wyld (JW): Thanks for being part of the Vital Capacities residency programme! Can you say a little about yourself and your work, perhaps in relation to what you’re thinking about doing during the residency?

Seecum Cheung (SC): Hi Jamie, thanks for having me! I’m Seecum and I primarily work with film. I’ve never really known how to describe my work but often, I work with journalists and experts to conduct interviews with citizens, politicians and experts in a bid to understand and reflect upon certain political moments in time. My focus for VC in these months will be working from this same approach, a long-term study of the gentrification of my father’s ancestral village which began in April 2018.

JW: You’re one of the first four artists to take part in Vital Capacities, how do you feel about being one of the first to take part?

SC: It’s definitely exciting to forge something new, a little like walking down a dark alleyway that get’s brighter with each step so it’s also a little scary for the unknownable aspects too. But I’m super excited about the people who we’re working with as everyone’s been really warm and inspiring to work with. We are a diverse group of people so maybe we might never have found ourselves working so closely together otherwise, so I’m really happy about this especially.

JW: One of the aims of Vital Capacities is to create an accessible site – how do you think this will be an opportunity to develop your way of working?

SC: Accessibility is such a crucial detail which I know is missing from a lot of work including my own. I am most grateful to everyone at VC for thinking through on this together so that we can make our work more inclusive. I definitely feel that I’ll be taking what I learn from here, to integrate into my work further on.

JW: What would you like to achieve through the residency? Is there a particular project you’ll be focusing on?

SC: For my time during this residency I would like to gather new recordings of the site through my family who are living next to the village. These will be mobile phone recordings just to get a layout and understanding of the changes on the site. I would also like to process the footage that I already have, work through the material and experiment with creating a new cut from this, in addition, I would like to conduct an interview with Mary Ann O’Donnell, a leading expert on the urban transformations of Shenzhen and blogger behind ‘Shenzhen Noted’.

JW: How do you see the next few weeks unfolding? Where would you like it to take you?

SC: I think it will take some time to adjust to publishing my work in this way but I am also grateful for this opportunity to unpack my research through this site. It’s not often that I get the chance to show the background research to my films so it’ll be an interesting opportunity to think about the publishing of these things through the residency. It’s also really nice to be able to work from home. I feel the fatigue of travelling and being split between too many places at once, and residencies often require you to leave home for a few months at a time which I haven’t been able to do so this is a nice halfway point.

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