Vera List Center Seminar: Virus Becoming with Shu Lea Cheang

In conceiving the Panopticon, did philosopher Jeremy Bentham construct a small passageway where prisoners could seek privacy and self-comfort away from the all-surveilling institutional gaze? Artist and filmmaker Shu Lea Cheang has been searching for this off-the-path getaway, to slip, to divert, to resist, to reclaim a genre to call one’s own. In the second Correction* seminar presented by the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, Cheang discusses UKI, a sci-fi, viral, alt-reality cinema in the making. In this [science] fiction scenario involving bioinformatics (the collection and interpretation of biological data) and an accidental bioengineering glitch, “UKI” emerges as a virus that departs from a gender binary and deviates into transgenic discourse. Living with the virus, Cheang argues, we are trans-mutating our viral bodies into a brave new Eco-System. Virus Becoming, as Cheang’s lecture is titled, is a newly discovered passageway to self-granted emancipation.

Shu Lea Cheang is an artist and filmmaker whose work aims to re-envision genders, genres, and operating structures. Her genre bending gender hacking practices challenge the existing operating mechanisms and the boundaries imposed on society, geography, politics, and economic structures.

This seminar is presented as part of the Vera List Center’s 2022–2024 Focus Theme Correction*.