Jessie Sheng, Havoc in Heaven

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January 9 – February 12, 2019

Jessie Sheng

Download Essay by Yuling Chen

Havoc in Heaven is a short video-collage titled after a famous Chinese opera that dramatizes an ancient fable of the Monkey King, whom the other deities scorn despite being a magical entity with great powers himself. As the story goes, the Monkey King discovers his exclusion from an important banquet in heaven and he retorts by raiding the celestial palaces, leaving them in ruin prior to the celebration. This work juxtaposes found video footage of this Chinese opera with stock images of suburban houses to interrogate the validity of the American Dream, a widespread fantasy that continues to seduce individuals with the promise of a better life.

Havoc in Heaven expresses discontent with some of the failures and falsehoods of the American Dream. In particular the denial of certain individuals, the homogenization it necessitates and the subsequent erasure of cultural identity for some, leading to questions regarding the potency and posture of Western hegemony in today’s postcolonial world.