Bo Choy | ‘These yearnings of the exiled souls, to which Time shall we send them?,’ 2022-2023 Dissolving Earths II

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Bo Choy’s practice has evolved out of the densely populated cityscape—her experiences are far removed from the untouched shores of Lake Baikal or the vast permafrost expanse beyond. Her video, performance, and sound works have navigated the layered histories and disparate realities of the city, through the poetics of memories and tales, and reflections of the past, often knitted together with speculations on the future.

For Dissolving Earths, considering a seemingly drastically different content, she seeks out shared entanglements with the land. Seeped in shared Eastern philosophies and deeper still through ancient ancestries, Bo Choy considers the fragile Buryat landscape alongside Buryat and Chinese mythologies. In the story of Meng Po, the Guardian of Forgetting and the gatekeeper at the Bridge of Reincarnation, souls are fed to the Soup of Oblivion to ensure memories of their past lives are erased. Through poetry, sound, and image, Bo Choy’s project attempts to remember the lives, stories, and emotions lost in time so as to know, understand, and connect:

“How should one know a faraway land? Socrates believed that all knowledge is a form of remembering, and that each person’s soul, being immortal, knew everything before it was born anew.”

Depicting the imagination of a disappearing land, for Bo Choy this new video work is the result of a generous gift of knowledge, wisdom, and memory exchange: amongst contemporaries, as well as with the shared ancestral foremothers of the region. The precarious permafrost landscape becomes a constellation of the collective memory and the collective unconscious: an umbilical cord of multiple histories, connecting new life to old life, and ripe with future possibilities.

If you want to delve deeper into the permafrost, visit the full online programme Dissolving Earths HERE.

These Yearnings Of The Exiled Souls,

  To Which Time Shall We Send Them?


How do I connect to the land
    when I grew up in the sky?
I traced the steps of my foremothers back
    to the First Mother in Buryatia.
I followed her back to the ancient land some 22,000 years ago
    where the old bones called my name.

Voices resonate in my belly
    under which the chthonic beings lie.
They hide safely in the warmth of my womb
    lighting up the Baikal.
They hide underneath the ground
    where the afterbirths of my forebears lie.

I breathe their blood in the soil
    bathe my skin with their guts.
The old bones speak to me, coo me into oblivion
    — a reason to forget.
Through endless distances named remembrance
    I connect to the land

The mountains below the ground growl.
Mammoths awaken from their ancient dreams
    dreams that have sustained for so long
    the union between the sky and the earth.

They have witnessed, thoughts and feelings
    melting slowly, atop the subterranean frozen peaks.
Streaming down the receding ground
    gathering swamps of emotions.
These yearnings of the exiled souls
    to which Time shall we send them?

Custodians of the present, the mammoths
    command the severance of the ties of eternal redemption
Nymphs shall remain nymphs.
No longer can mayflies reincarnate
    – forever they are
    the red worms in the sun

As above so below. Souls of mayflies queue up at the bridge by Baikal
    to down the Oblivion Soup.
The old bones need you to forget,

Scenes of existences flit past on the frozen lake
    calm as dead sea.
Vapours take up the melted feelings
    molecule by molecule
like mirrored holograms as large as the cosmos
    up to the sky.


* afterbirths — For Buryat people, a child’s afterbirth was buried under the yurt where their parents were camped at the moment of their birth through a special ritual. It establishes an intimate and magical union between the child and the birthplace — a connection that remain throughout life.
* mayfly — In Taoist thought, mayflies are often evoked as a metaphor for the fleeting existences of human life in relation to the entire Cosmo.
* red worms in the sun — according to Buryat shamanistic belief, humans are seen as “red worms of the sunny world” by the spirits from the world of the dead.
* oblivion soup — According to Chinese legends, a soup is served and must be eaten by souls in the spirit world that are queueing to cross the bridge of reincarnation. All memories of the past life will be forgotten once the soup is consumed, the soul is then ready to cross the bridge to be reincarnated.


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Curated by:
12/05 2023
Bo Choy, ‘These Yearnings Of The Exiled Souls, To Which Time Shall We Send Them?,’ 2022-2023
Video and text
8 mins 10 sec

Cover image: Bo Choy, ‘These Yearnings Of The Exiled Souls, To Which Time Shall We Send Them?,’ 2022-2023, video still
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