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Family portrait. Photo: Yutong Lin

FatherDaughter — Words I have yet to say to my dad

  • Essay
  • PHI Foundation
By  Yutong Lin

The following text is a personal essay by Yutong Lin, former team member of the PHI Foundation, in response to the performance FatherDaughter by artist Florencia Sosa Rey and her father Hector Sosa. 

The event was curated by Victoria Carrasco, Adjunct Curator – Public Programs, and was organized alongside the exhibition Yayoi Kusama: DANCING LIGHTS THAT FLEW UP TO THE UNIVERSE, presented at the PHI Foundation from July 6, 2022 to January 15, 2023.

The original Chinese version of Lin’s text was published on their Instagram page and is available below.

I forgot how long it has been since the last time I wrote. I thought the emotions that had solidified over the winter wouldn’t catch up with the summer tempo, where I see my feelings fall away behind me in the breeze on my bike. When it begins to rain more and get colder, thoughts come slowly back from when I first came to Montréal last year. I was nervous, like a timid mouse, very much lost in the French-ness. For me, French is yet another foreign culture within a place that is already foreign. Forever, an outsider.

How time flies here. The swiss cheese plant I bought last fall grew too big to fit into the small pot. I had to cut parts off and put them into a water bottle. The roots grew out in the water. I felt like the plant, slowly growing my roots in the water, wishing to ground myself, but I know it is still water with nothing solid. 

Floating…

The wind today feels like autumn. I am trying not to think about the fact that winter is approaching. With the friends I made this summer, we went to see FatherDaughter. It is a performance by Florencia and her father Hector. On the playground in front of UdeM, Hector and Florencia were running, walking, circling, lap after lap, always meeting and separating. One of them is the minute hand and the other is the second hand—days and days away from Argentina, how many harsh winters have we survived? Muscles sculpted on the body are resistant to the loss of androgens over time. The father grows into a child.

Fatherdaughter documentoriginal
FatherDaughter, 2022
Florencia Sosa Rey and Hector Sosa
Performance at the MIL Campus
Photo: Document Original

In the pink clouds, airplanes and trains go by. Florencia looks back at Hector, like my dad and I when we fly kites at the park during the Spring Festival in my hometown of Kunming, China. The two of us are running and running. I look back into my dad’s eyes. He is not as athletic as I remembered. The wind is too strong, and the kite cannot fly high. So we keep running and running, hoping that the kite will catch the wind. My dad was such a good kite flyer when he was young. The other day he called me saying his feet hurt, and that he had inflammation, which may be a precursor to gout. I looked at his feet wrapped in gauze on my phone screen. Ice melted.

Don’t we also just keep running and running? Always running away from moments of eye contact, (dis)belief, guilt, fear, empathy, piety, farewells, authority, masculinity, success, pride, tears, care, and anger… All the subtlety and violence of emotions take shape in the form of high blood pressure, diabetes, gout, sweets, and the food he loves and cooks. Between you and I, there is a layer of worries. We are forever separated by the phone screen. He knows what I mean, but he never says it.

I listened to Eason Chan’s classic song, “Bicycle.” He sings, “Don’t, don’t assume that I know, everything. Everything you have done is for me, why can’t I feel it?”

I got the courage and sent it to you, dad, saying that this song feels like it’s about you and me, and you said, “Good to hear! Thinking of your childhood, thank you.”

When will I ever go back home to you?

Suddenly, I saw a little spider scurry away and disappear into the grass.

The performance was over. Florencia hugged her dad and the crowd applauded. It was chilly, so I decided to go home and have a bowl of hot beef soup, a kind of Yunnan food that reminds me of home.

Missing dad, and mom, missing home.

Yutong lin family
Family portrait. Photo: Yutong Lin

《父亲女儿,还没对爸爸说出的话》

好久没有提笔写字,在冬天凝固起来的情绪不去想起的话就以为散在单车脑后。直到夏天的尾巴了,一场雨一场雨慢慢把思绪又带回去年刚刚来到蒙特利尔的时候。这个外国的外国,到处都是法语,什么也看不懂,连出门都会紧张,像躲在暗处的小老鼠。去年冬天买的窗孔龟背竹长得快要容不下小花盆,于是剪下来放在盛满水的油瓶子里,几个月的时间也长出来根须。觉得自己也好像水瓶里面的无水栽培龟背竹,慢慢在水里长出根须,四面八方地探,也知道触不到土地,漂的命吧。

风吹起来真的有秋天的感觉,尽量不去想变冷这件事。和这个夏天交到的朋友们去看佛朗西娅和爸爸的表演项目“父亲女儿”。在蒙特利尔大学门口的操场上,爸爸和弗朗西娅一个跑步一个走路,一圈又一圈,总是要遇上又分开。“他们一个是分针,一个是秒针。”从阿根廷来的日子,是怎样熬过一个又一个严酷的冬天。雕在身体上的肌肉和体魄,抗年岁和流逝掉的雄激素,好像不会再发脾气。爸爸变成小孩子。

粉色的云,飞机掠过,不时回望的弗朗西娅像我和爸爸前年春节在月牙塘公园放风筝,也是两人跑啊跑,风太大了,风筝反而飞不起来。爸爸是放风筝的好手,上半年他打电话和我说脚疼,有炎症,好像是痛风的前兆。看着镜头里爸爸胖胖的脚裹着纱布,坚冰也软下来。我和他不也是一直跑,一直跑,逃开,又眼神交错,不解,弥补,害怕,试探,孝敬,再见,权威,男性气质,成功,骄傲,眼泪,在乎,生气。蜻蜓点水,暴风骤雨,高血压,糖尿病,痛风,汤圆,回锅肉。不想,想。我和你之间,那一层纱一样的塑料薄膜和乌龟壳,永远隔着手机屏幕。他知道的,他不说。

听到陈奕迅的《单车》,“不要不要假设我知道,一切一切也都是为我而做,为何这么伟大,如此感觉不到?”鼓起勇气,发给爸爸,说这首歌好像在写我和你,你说“好听!想起你儿时点滴,谢谢,长大的女儿”

不确定的事,是永远永远会死在外国的外国,什么时候可以回到家。

低头,看见小蜘蛛飞快地跑走,消失在草地里。

演毕,爸爸和弗朗西娅紧紧地抱在一起,众鼓掌。回家喝一碗热腾腾的牛肉汤。

“茫茫人生,好像荒野,如孩儿能伏于爸爸的肩膀,谁要下车。”

想家,想爸爸妈妈。

Platform

This article was written as part of Platform. Platform is an initiative created and driven jointly by the PHI Foundation’s education, curatorial and Visitor Experience teams. Through varied research, creation and mediation activities in which they are invited to explore their own voices and interests, Platform fosters exchanges while acknowledging the Visitor Experience team members’ expertise.

Yutong Lin

Yutong Lin is a writer and image maker from Lijiang, Yunnan, China. As a Nakhi descendant, their research concerns the making of memories and Indigenous/nomadic cosmologies in the Himalayas (Zomia) through community media and archiving practice. After drifting to Montreal in 2021, they also care about the queer experiences of the Sinophone diaspora. They are also a member of the artist and research collective NDoI (the Nomadic Department of the Interior), together, it is a project investigating the process and affordance of reshaping land and narratives of violence in the form of oral history.

林禹彤

林禹彤是在社区影像和档案中捡拾大西南的(佐米亚)民族记忆的纳西族写作者和摄影师。漂泊到蒙特利尔之后,开始关注和思考何为流散的酷儿的官能体会。同时,作为艺术研究团体——”游牧水土资源部“的一员,他们协力的片子以口述史的方式记录下日新月异的土地和关于暴力的故事。

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