The Nameless, 2015

Basel 2016
The Nameless


The Nameless is a video installation that revolves around a Sino-Vietnamese man named Lai Teck, who is played by iconic Hong Kong actor Tony Leung Chiu Wai. Lai Teck was one of the 50 known aliases of the Secretary General of the Malayan Communist Party from 1939 to 1947, until he was killed in Thailand after being exposed as a triple agent. He had worked first for the French, then the British secret forces, and finally with the Japanese Kempeitai (secret police) during the years of the Malayan Occupation (1941–1945). Of all the great cinematic cultures of the world, it is perhaps Hong Kong cinema that has shown the most intense fascination with ‘comprised’ individuals. Taking its cues from the constant stream of Hong Kong films made about ‘stool pigeons,’ ‘double-agents,’ ‘informers,’ and ‘traitors,’ the work tells the story of an identity metamorphosis lurking beneath the veneer of nations and ideologies. By overlaying multiple languages and compiling images of a single actor against different Asian films made between 1989 and 2013, The Nameless attempts to represent the historical, shifting, multi-faceted figure as one who not only influenced a crucial period of Malayan history, but also as one who embodies the layered historical and ideological complexities of Southeast Asia.