Deconstructing Zoe/ Scent of an Orchid

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


Deconstructing Zoe, is a 52-minute documentary, which is also available as a 21-minute version called Scent of an Orchid. The documentary is a vivid and intimate portrait of a transgender actor. It is an exploration of gender, race and sexuality, seen through the life and times of transgender actor Zoe. The PaR project seeks to explore and capture the way that race and gender are performed on screen, and the ways in which the medium and the form of representation can reinforce or challenge stereotypes. The research seeks to ask, to what extent are ethnicity and gender performative? To what extent is that performance constrained by western stereotypical perceptions of the exotic 'Oriental'? To what extent are those perceptions negative? To what extent can performance allow the performer to take ownership of and manipulate those stereotypes? What implications do such goals have on the filmmaking process and the resulting shape of the film? If gender is ‘performed’, ‘manufactured through a sustained set of acts, posited through the gendered stylization of the body’, (Butler, 1999) then can the same also be said of race? Do we act out in ways that consolidate an impression of what it is to be Chinese, for example, which lies at the core of my project? Current postmodern critiques of identity are thus also of interest here, and in relation to performativity, masquerade, mimicry, drag and simulacrum are key terms used in this diverse approach to notions of identity. It is the investigation of these aspects of performance that comprise the research questions for this project.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputOther
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8 May 2016
EventQ! Film Festival - Jakarta, Indonesia
Duration: 1 Feb 201621 Jun 2017


  • Documentary
  • film
  • transgender
  • gender fluid
  • performing race
  • performing gender
  • identity
  • Chinese British
  • British East Asian

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