A collaboration between Diane Williams and Ching Ching Cheng
“Hybrid Altar” is an interactive installation by artists, Ching Ching Cheng and Diane Williams. This installation explores identity that traces back from our cultural lineage. Both of us are immigrants from our respective countries of Taiwan and Philippines. Colonization heavily influenced our customs and traditions. Taiwan was under Japanese rule and the Philippines was colonized by Spain, United States, and briefly by Japan.Under foreign rule, our countries developed unique cultures and rituals that are practiced today but as time passes, we forget the “what” and the “why” of these rituals and their origins. A popular tradition in the U.S. is theWishing Fountain (toss-a-coin-make-a-wish), a European folklore where any spoken wish would be granted. It isa ritual that everyone performs yet very few people know the history of this tradition. It originated from early European tribes who believed that the water from potable holes was a gift from the gods.
“Hybrid Altar” is an experience of mixed ceremonial rituals. It is constructed with an environment made of yarn, fabric and plastic woven into wires that are supported by two, 6’ and 4’ metal poles in cement blocks, and a fountain in the center for the offering ritual, surrounded by Chinese gods on Greek columns made of plaster and wood. The yarn and fabric are recycled from friends and family or salvaged from stores that are traditionally owned and operated by immigrants. They provide connections with the histories and memories of Diane’s community as well as the Catholic religion she was brought up in. Under the Chinese gods and fountain is a woven mat, made from the same materials, with the words, “TULOY” meaning welcome in Tagalog, the main language in the Philippines, referencing the Filipino hospitality during a religious fiesta.Ching explored the popular Chinese gods in Chinatown located in Los Angeles, then modified and mass-produced these statues with Greek mythology influences. The immersive display of the gods and the offerings are based on the ceremonial tradition in Taiwanese temples.
This collaborative work addresses cultural structures, questioning norms and assumptions that we all have, regardless of where we are from. These traditions are often seen in our daily practices, beliefs and routines that we put so much value. “Hybrid Altar” is our version of an altar that combines iconic symbols and representations of the cultures we grew up in with figures and materials that are reminiscent of our present lives in Los Angeles. The public is invited to participate in a scavenger hunt, looking for iconic symbols: baby Jesus, flowers, Chinese coins, angels etc. hidden near the installation then placing them in the “Hybrid Altar”.
Outdoor installation at Atche Art Space