'Tell Me What You Want’ is an ambitious 4 screen video project about the interactions of a tourist and the inhabitants of an exotic culture, culminating in friendship. The project was created between November 2015 and June 2017, when the artist Yu Cheng-Ta flew frequently from Taipei to Manila, all the while assuming identities of that of a traveller, a friend, and a film producer.
The tile of the project ‘Tell Me What You Want’, refers to a sort of a greeting in the red- light district of Malate in Manila, which in turn refers to the local transactional structure used on the streets. This transactional structure can be described as a kind of an exchange or barter system. The artist’s relationship of exchange started when he was on a street in Malate, where as a foreigner he engaged the local small-time hustlers, referred to as ‘Marketing Boys’.
Owing to the needs of shooting his film, Yu enters into negotiations as well as transactions with the men. The various relationships and processes of exchange are intertwined with reality, the social network, the diverse longings and the imaginative perspectives across cultures. From these unusual encounters, he developed a friendship.
Yu incorporated the negotiation of exchange of the local streets into the production of the project as a whole. He kept experimenting with the social and economic frameworks beneath these relationships of exchange, while at the same time, he tried to draw out the definitions of friendly exchange and transaction from the viewpoints of different cultures, disclose the bias rooted among different nationalities, and uncover the hidden class consciousness behind tourism and international relations.
The final result of his time in Manila are four video mockumentaries: ‘Malate’, ‘David’, ‘Joara’, and ‘The Shop’, which are independent yet synchronized with one another. Separately each film symbolizes the products derived from various people, cultures, viewpoints, and longings. The artist himself, through the reflection of his foreign character ‘David’, is the commonality implied in the four films, and through which many of the core issues of this exhibition are exposed.