La Casa 3: The Apartments records a series of apartments, from Manhattan to different parts of Hong Kong, where Linda Lai and her partner took abode. A 18-minute exercise of the mind’s power to remember, from the most material to the unspeakable… 如何說自己的居所？只想為生活的內部節奏留些可歌可譜的痕跡，核心是白日的失神、晚間的夢魘、錯置、不明所以，走一步就是一步。錄像作品《房子3之搬家、夢遊》就是黎肖嫻在表達與木訥之間的用18分鐘裹藏著的念力。
**To bi-lingual readers: English version and Chinese version are different narratives and no translation of each other.
**The video is now part of Elaine Wong’s site-specific installation 20C, part of Jamsen Law’s curatorial project, the “Non-Solos” series.
搬家再搬家。那時，決定放棄心愛的紐約看香港會給我們怎樣的未來。1996，1997。搬家再搬家，主要般的都是沈甸甸的書、筆記本，繼而是更多的書和書和藝術展覽的圖冊。香港確實打開了我們，創意媒體學院打開了我們。書架的分類越來越繁複。兩個在擴張膨脹的人加起來有多少個學科？電影研究、文化理論、哲學、史學方法漸漸退側或升層，光是藝術，分了類再分類，而且都說跨界跨學科，分類或許該由作者起？啊，還有中文書、英文書、西班牙語的和… 。有些書越來越工具化，有些書方便節選作（別人的）參考閱讀。有些書不一定精彩，但有我們的參與。… 搬家其實主要是運「書」。每次搬家，都要忍著運輸工人笑罵：「書、書、輸，真不好意頭！」要不然，他們就幽默的說：「這麼多影碟，可以出租！」然後我多會搭上一句：「往後賣了可以補貼晚年啊。」（自嘲。）最不好意思的是好些藝術家贈予的作品，又或在籌款會買下的作品，都未能一一上牆，因為牆都給書和影碟佔據了。
La Casa 3 – The Apartments (v. 2, 2017/2021) is the 3rd episode of the “La Casa 1-2-3” trilogy (aka “The House, The Flat, The Apartments”), which is a visual ethnographic sketch of three domestic spaces closely connected to the artist, each with a distinct sight-and-sound approach. The first is the house of a European bourgeois home in Las Palmas, Spain, which I visited regularly in the past 24 years. The second is a tiny flat in a public housing estate in Shaukiwan, Hong Kong, where my four siblings and I grew up. Part 3 is a series of apartments, from Manhattan to Hong Kong, where I and my partner took abode.
La Casa 3 – The Apartments marks a time frame of roughly 1996-2008, and a number of homes from where we reached out to realities out there.
Disclosing my living space is disclosing an intimate side of my own life. It is no easy job. As a visual ethnographer, I took distance and found patterns documented in my own video diaries (1996-2017): loads of books, a lot of house-moving, and weather, in the often neglected perennial backdrop and so on — together they form a saga of “progress” in which we were only on-lookers. There were, indeed, very few moments when there was no construction around us. Endless demolition and building. Endless whitewashing… Good and bad monumental moments of history from around the world creep in though the TV box. We wonder: when is it possible to have a decent window view?
Like parts 1-2 of the La Casa series, The Apartments contemplates the living space as an expression of personality by piecing together the timeless inwardness of a living space. Silence and fragmentary ambient sounds, recomposed into a subjective image- and soundscape, call for a dialectic relation between seeing, hearing and knowing. To me, the camera and cinema has a unique role to play in archiving such imprints. I then glean the surpluses, among which also traces of the logical of development.
In this 2021 revision, an epilogue, 2017-2021 is added, to preserve traces of the unspeakable through this period of turbulence and on-going deterioration.
Notes on home-making… La Casa 1-2, The House, The Flat
居住空間有多重意義 -－生活的痕跡、日常創意的展示、個性的表達、個人參與歷史的方式。2001-2013年間，我把鏡頭對準西班牙丈夫渡過童年的房子和香港我爸媽居住的單位；攝錄機在家具和裝飾品上來回滑盪，又或定睛凝神細看，年續一年的，我給捲進了看、如何看、看不見的辯證旅程。我真的因為勤勞的攝錄，就能貼近這個丈夫兒時長大的空間嗎？我爸媽的家在香港筲箕灣。狹小的居室，有了母親精心排序的小擺設而生氣怏然。她自由發揮的個人美學，給小單位灌注了她的個性。 可是，家也指向死亡。逝者與在世者的性情氣度，細碎的生活痕跡，唯在閒散的家居玩物中暗自呼息。然而一兩次的搬家，細碎繁物都棄為烏有。有了蒙太奇的美學座標，我尋找的是另一種日常生活歷史的書寫實驗。
On the interior of the bourgeois home, Walter Benjamin comments, “For the private person, living space becomes…antithetical to the place of work.” In shaping his private environment, the private citizen participates in history; s/he “gathers remote places and the past.” My video essay articulates my urge for intimate connections with just such a space – the house in Las Palmas where my husband grew up. What is it that an outsider like me could understand? What’s accessible is the furniture and ornaments, which my camera captures, highlighting the process of seeing yet not seeing, and the impossibility to understand. As for my parents’ home, of which I was once an insider, I notice Mom’s quiet everyday creativity permeating the tiny space of a flat in public housing, asserting her subjectivity through objects imbued with her intentions. Whether the house and the flat, we all proceed toward death. They have spent their whole life embellishing their homes, but eventually they have departed/will depart one by one, leaving behind an uninhabited living space marked by their personality. But the departed live on, in the form of the material imprints that speak of their own ways of participating in history. Through creative work, I preserve the process of tracing the traces of those living and once lived.