Breakwater (Youngsook Choi and Taey Iohe) and Cường Phạm – Becoming Forest: Summer Episode
Artist Broadcast

A sonic diasporic space, featuring birdsong, buzzing bees, weather and Southeast and East Asian folk song and folk tale.

Becoming Forest is a collaborative endeavour between the artist duo Breakwater (Youngsook Choi and Taey Iohe) and the radio producer, curator, activist Cường Phạm. Breakwater make installations combining performance, film, sound, photography, and text to explore postcolonial and intersectional identities.

The project considers mental wellbeing as a collective responsibility, focusing on the detrimental impact of Covid-19 and the spike of anti-Asian racism upon the mental health of Southeast and East Asian diasporas, refugees, and precarious migrants in the UK. Drawing upon Frantz Fanon’s seminal observation on the relationship between colonial oppression/violence and mental illness, this project conceptualises collective healing as performing justice.

In the third of four radio episodes that aim to provide and hold a space of solidarity and communal comfort, the artists invite listeners to join them for a conversation held during a communal hotpot meal. They invited three UK-based creatives, artist Bettina Fung 馮允珊, artist Yarli Allison, and writer Yin Lo to share their thoughts on food, homemaking, language, migration, decolonisation and more. The conversations are interspersed with acoustic captures of Hong Kong through rustling bamboo leaves, rippling water waves, and aeroplanes taking off over the city. 

ferns, grasses and other forest undergrowth are shown in verdant green on a sunny day. The photo is overlaid with a translucent wave that echoes a sound wave with darker and lighter tones.

Breakwater share their sincere gratitude to the generosity of Ghost & John, who shared an extract of their sound piece ‘Radio Neighbourhood’. In this artwork, they are integrating dance performance in a public space with the postcolonial traumatic histories from Hong Kong, weaving aspects of political oppression, racism and homophobia, into a journey from harsh experiences into the healing process. 

Breakwater say, “We are grateful to Yarli for singing ‘阿波羅’ a pop song about a summer romance. We thank Bettina for singing ‘大懶堂’ song about winning the lottery and letting go of societal pressure to work for financial gain, & ‘如果陽光’ a song from an advert from a popular lemon tea drink. Lastly thanks to Yin Lo for sharing an extract of ‘Take Care of Yourself’. This piece is from a bilingual anthology of essays, ‘Writing in Difficult Times’, which was published in 2021 in Chinese and English by Cart Noodle Press. In the excerpt, Yin talks about the states of mind of a traveller, who may not have a place to return to.”