As a symbolic gesture, a small seedless mandarin tree has been taken out of a pot. Soil removed and momentarily replanted in the grey mud on a beach in Melbourne.

Before being taken out again.
And again.
And again.
And again.

(So that I could get this video right)

It is an inappropriate action for me, or anyone, to dig up a mandarin tree.

Extract good fortune from the land.


? (mandarin fruit) and ? (gold) are puns in Cantonese, both pronounce as ‘gum’.

Mandarin is a symbol for good fortune.

There is always a small potted seedless mandarin tree at my Grandma’s for Chinese New Year. Its fruits consumed by the family throughout the month.

After dinner and during family gatherings.
The tree usually dies weeks later due to the lack of sunlight.
The sort of thing that occurs in a tiny Hong Kong apartment.
Grandma purchases a new one every year.

It is seedless anyway.

Nature has its own way to adapt.

Adapting is an aggressive and extremely awkward action that requires repetition.

Repetition of history.
Repetition of clashing with the environment.
Repetition of self-doubts.
Repetition of history.
Repetition of cutting all roots violently.
Repetition of forcing the tree to adapt, call it mandarin, despite it came from somewhere other than ‘China’.
Repetition of history.

It adapts. It normalises its hybridity.
It grows again, as long as you hide its roots.

Soak it in water. Shake the salty mud away.
Strip all traces from the violent uprooting process.
Carefully plant it in a suburban backyard in a full sun position.
Disguise it as a healthy and ordinary tree.
Re-attach the ‘seedless mandarin’ tag from Bunnings for identification.

Juicy, exotic and full of optimism.

Perfect for Christmas.

Nobody needs to know.

Everything is fine.

Select and discard. One needs to abandon certain values in order to adapt, be that language, ritual, culture. The most difficult decisions you have to make in order to continue adapting.

In order to be identified.

There is no conscious beginning, nor does it end with a letter in the mail offering one (me) citizenship.

Affirm my belonging.
Defend my territory?
Relocate my roots.
Redefine my identity to a point of divergence.

Learn. Give up.
Learn again. Give up more. Assimilate.

Cultivate what is added and left behind, old and new, past and present.

Do it again.

Dualities of a conscious self.

Rootlessly rooted.