Solo Arts Practice > Reburying My Navel String

Reburying My Navel String
Video, cane sugar, Twingings English breakfast tea, Mom's fine china, sweat
3 mins 39 secs

In the short film, 'Reburying My Navel String', my hands and my parents’ hands narrate my lineage of both coloniser and colonised, creating a voicetrack that is evocative of the way trauma is held in a family unit. Our hands materialise the tension in repressed intergenerational traumas through engagement with sugar and tea. In the video, my parents and I repetitively spoon sugar into tea until the tea has overflowed onto a gleaming white table cloth. The tea used is Twinings English Breakfast Tea, pointing to my paternal heritage and a staple of my grandparent’s home. The sugar used is cane sugar, symbolising the cane fields of my maternal homeland, in which generations of African, Indian, and Chinese diasporic communities as well as Indigenous peoples were used for slave labour and indentured servitude following European colonisation. Set in the backyard of my childhood home in the height of summer, this film’s voicetrack buzzes with cicadas, the hum of air-conditioning units, tinkling of china, the soft sizzle of heat radiating off my mother and father’s skin, and silent suspense of my family’s connection unfolding through repetitive action and material engagement with the hands.