Laura Fong Prosper
(Panama, b. 1978)
Laura Fong Prosper was born in Panama in 1978 to a family of Chinese descent; her paternal grandfather came to the country from Guangdong, China, in 1929 at the age of 12. Fong Prosper trained as a video artist at the International School of Film and TV of San Antonio de los Baños in Cuba (EICTV), and holds an MFA in media art from Bauhaus University Weimar in Germany. She has also taken part in exchange programs with the Kunsthochschule für Medien (KHM) in Cologne, Germany, and with the Tongji University in Shanghai, China. She currently lives in Germany.
Fong Prosper has long been intrigued by the history and traditions of her family. As her father explains, “Since very early on she has been interested in her grandfather’s journey from China to Panama.” In this respect, her work can be regarded as autobiographical, dealing with issues of memory and ancestry. Following her grandfather’s death, she relocated to China for more than a year, during which time she sought out her grandfather’s home and relatives in Guangdong; this experience has imbued her work with a new dimension, allowing her to use her camera and creative eye to trace her grandfather’s interoceanic journey.
Other hallmarks of Fong Prosper's work include such Chinese family traditions as the rituals of the dinner table. In her work Lazy Susan (2012), she juxtaposes a video of her family in Panama dining around the titular rotating tray with a video of her family in China eating in the exact same manner. Both videos were filmed after her grandfather’s death, and both were executed by placing the camera on top of the “lazy Susan.”
Her video installations and documentaries typically incorporate both archival footage and her own photography, blending digital and analog technologies. Her work has been exhibited in China, Panama, Germany, Costa Rica, the United States, and Brazil, and she is a proud participant in the #PANACHINA group exhibition.