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Jennifer Van De Pol / Oscar Chan Yik Long / Mary Lee / Devora Neumark

first performed on January 12, 2016
Things That Can Happen, Kowloon, Hong Kong
performed once in 2016, ongoing during December


Jennifer Van De Pol

Montreal, Canada / Victoria, Canada /


While in Hong Kong for the installation of the Apexart Franchise Exhibition Program winning exhibition “How to Make Space” (June 25–July 23, 2016), by Chantal Wong of the Kowloon-based contemporary art space Things That Can Happen, to their month-long artistic residency.

My spontaneous response was to create a living wellness art laboratory, aligning with my commitment to shift from creating artwork from a place of trauma to creating work from a place of compassionate interconnectivity. I called this performance research process “Cultivating Joy as Radical Practice,” inviting Jennifer Van De Pol, interdisciplinary artist and a former graduate student of mine from Goddard College, to collaborate with me.

For the entire month of December 2016, we provided each other with near-daily performative prompts, among which were: “The essential question, made public,” “Countering non-joy,” “Queering joy,” “Joy in dangerous times” and “All things comes back to you.” A total of 44 prompts were shared between us, emerging in part out of dialogues between the two of us and partly out of conversations with participants who joined us in one or more of the four dialogue circles that we convened during our stay in Hong Kong. The prompts led to a profound somatic/aesthetic/socio-political experimentation and the creation of new bodies of interdisciplinary work which took the form of video, photography, drawing, live art performance, and/or writing. These works will be highlighted in an artist book to be created by Hong Kong-based artist Beatrix Pang. Eliciting a range of responses, each prompt furthered the inquiry into the ways in which joy is experienced and transmitted.

In many ways, the dialogue circles extended our individual research-creation processes by opening a collective exploration of joy through group mind-body centering activities, heart-opening conversation among strangers, and the presentation of prompt-inspired artworks.

In this time of global upheaval, we choose to experience joy as an act of resilience, a counterpoint to hopelessness, and a manifestation of the underlying radiance of being within us all.