LapXuan’s performance Half Full Half Empty is a test of limitations, undertaken in the realm of the everyday. The 378 half-cups of water she attempts to drink throughout the two-hour duration of the performance make up a total approximate to 11 litres. Water intoxication can begin to occur when consuming as little as three to four litres in an hour. When translating the word ‘water’ in Google we are given the word ‘nước’; when translating the word ‘nước’ we are given the word ‘country’. For some Vietnamese, these two definitions are inseparable, whilst for a foreign audience the subtly is undetectable. Although LapXuanacknowledges the dual meaning, she rejects the political in favour of a human/being focus and interpretation of her work.
Half Full Half Empty is a performance-study of state-changes, thresholds and liminality. In the adage, it is our subjective perception of the cups that renders them half full or empty. The cups exist in an in-between state that transgresses clear definition. The artist’s refusal to distinguish between the two states suggests the possibility that both might coexist. Lap Xuan is not interested in establishing dichotomies, but rather exploring borderlines. In pursuing the disorientating effects of water intoxication the artist actively seeks out the ambiguities associated with transition stages.
Watching the artist forced to make choices, the work becomes a live visual documentation of the consciousness of being. Despite Lap Xuan’s progress through the piece, her condition only worsens. As a result, we are able to see the conflict between our knowledge of our environment and our decision-making processes. Half Full Half Empty makes up part of the artist’s on-going social experiment practice in relation to her PhD research on liminality, marginalisation and community recalibration.
Half Full Half Empty was part of all animals are equal, a group exhibition celebrating the soft opening of A. Farm.