Jan 25 2018

Imaginary Scenery

by Winky Tsang

ArtAsiaPacific designer WINKY TSANG’s rubber plate print Court (2018).

Court was inspired by Albert Camus’s 1942 novel The Stranger and the experience of attending court hearings. Being a spectator in a courtroom offers a different perspective from reading about trials in the news. Seeing the faces of the defendants, prosecutor and judge; hearing their orotund exchanges and conflicting rationalities; and being watched over by husky police officers who must secure 2,000 square feet of space—these sights and sounds often are not translated by mass media. There are wooden tables with rows of black-wheeled chairs. There is a sturdy fence with cold, black, metal bars. There is a metal sliding lock that separates the audience from the front of the courtroom. A cinematic spectacle begins when the judge emerges from a corridor and heads toward his risen bench. The officer shouts, “Court!” And then the show begins.

Every day, in the courthouse, personal stories unfold publicly, offering a series of tableaux not unlike plays staged at a theater. One might watch the painful recollections of an old man who stole some bread, or feel pity for the migrant worker who is about to be deported. A violent policeman may plead for mercy, while a defiant activist might refuse to acknowledge the charges brought against him, choosing instead to refuse the situation’s absurdity.

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