• Ideas
  • Jun 23, 2020

Artstrology: Cancer 2020, Home Sweet Home

Illustration by Renee Li for

Take a deep breath, Cancers, and congratulate yourselves for surviving 2019 and arriving at your birthday season. With the challenges presented by the transiting planets Saturn (representing authority and karmic debt) and Pluto (representing endings and transformation), 2019 was certainly not an easy year, but rest assured, by the end of 2020, it will all be worth it.

Just as crabs are often defensive of their habitat and have a tendency to move in groups, Cancer is focused on home, motherhood, and sovereignty. "Born" on July 1, 1997, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region falls under this sign, which largely explains why the idea of the “motherland” and the skyrocketing housing prices have always been at the center of the city’s concerns. Cancer’s attachment to home means they might find it difficult to move on from the past (to the extent that they never want to throw anything away, for example) and adapt to new environments. In Hong Kong, this nostalgia can be seen in local culture, from TV commercials that repurpose 1990s Cantopop songs to old-style cha chaan teng. In short, Cancers are experts of the past. Sound and installation artist Samson Young’s earliest exposure to music was through the portable radios his mother gave him when he was little. His projects are often rooted in history, incorporating archival materials or historical quotes. For instance, Young traces the individual histories of bells across 23 locations for the multimedia project For Whom the Bell Tolls (2015), investigating how the objects are related to wars.

Sensitive to all types of vibrations, including sounds, Cancerian artists are often eager to experiment with sonic experiences. Before Young’s video series Muted Situations (2014– )—in which the notes played by musicians are suppressed, thus highlighting neglected sounds such as that of keys being pressed—the early works of video-art pioneer Nam June Paik likewise incorporated seemingly silent performative actions as well as the physical destruction of instruments, such as smashing a violin. Paik also collaborated with musicians, including avant-garde composer John Cage and cellist Charlotte Moorman. The latter appears in Paik’s performance piece TV Bra for Living Sculpture (1969), in which two TV monitors were attached to Moorman’s breasts; the moving images on the screens changed as she played a haunting composition on the cello.

Because of their high level of sensitivity, Cancers often hide in their shells for protection when they are overwhelmed by their surroundings. They have a tendency to retreat into their inner worlds, so they might feel uncomfortable revealing or expressing their feelings directly. Emotions run deep during Cancer season, so we might feel as if we are engulfed by an ocean of feelings. But as Mercury went into retrograde in the sign on June 18, this is the season to heal from past traumas. In Hong Kong, it is the right time for us to stop and reflect on our past, as we mark the first anniversary of the ongoing pro-democracy movement and walk into an uncertain future.

This article is written for entertainment purposes only.

Pamela Wong is ArtAsiaPacific’s assistant editor.

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