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Paradoxical Gasp (2022 - ongoing)

An activist art project focused on the societal and personal impacts of tear gas, promoting understanding and actions toward peace and social justice, supported by Arts Council England, Wellcome Collection and Bloomsbury Festival. 

Paradoxical Gasp is an experimental event dealing with the traumatic legacy of tear gas exposure around the world. Running across the historical underground spaces of the Crypt Gallery, Hidden Keileon creates a sensory experience for the audience to explore how air is used as a form of political control through immersive performances, interactive exhibitions, music and sound installations. 


This is also the first public programme of Out of Breath, an art project based on archival and community research about the impact of tear gas, globally and locally, on society and personal freedom. Working closely with researchers, archivists and art psychotherapists, this project shares stories about tear gas, how tear gas has been used and its impact on mental and physical health.


Through a collaborative approach and socially engaged creative process, 'Out of Breath' voices multicultural solidarity for communities which are frequently ignored, silenced, or neglected due to the political tool of oppression. It also includes an accompanying exhibition with a publication and a documentary film to be presented from 2022 to 2023. 


The project explores the links between tear gas as a form of oppression and the social issue of trauma, inviting the audience to consider how society can stand together in the pursuit of freedom regardless of background, race, and nationality. Tear gas plays a crucial role in the politics of oppression, domination and violence. Understanding its traumatic legacy expands our capacities to value human life, which serves as a moral basis for social transformations working toward peace and social justice. 


Through Paradoxical Gasp, Hidden Keileon is trying out new forms of creativity and new ways of presentation. Rather than a show or an art performance, this is an experiment for us to work with the community and new people. It is a collective journey with all the participants and audiences to look into important social issues and create a caring space for traumatic experiences to be heard. 


The exposure to tear gas has been described by many as a thousand onions being chopped in front of their faces all at the same time. An onion is a common cooking ingredient which is known to aid our immune system, but also causes us pain and irritates our eyes as we prepare it. Despite the physical effects of tear gas exposure believed to be temporary, the psychological traumas persist after one has been exposed to its effects. How can we let our traumatic memories turn into a boost of immunity as time passes, and let the wound heal with care?

Production team

Hidden Keileon:

Bonnie Chan, Jeffrey Choy, Ghost Chan, John Chan, Angela Wai Nok Hui, Sandra Lam
Devising Performers: Vinna Law, Isabella Leung 
Sound Engineer: Nicholas Moroz
Photographer: Jane Lam
Videographer: Michael Mui 
Art psychotherapist: Lily Hsu 
British Sign Language guide: Martin Glover
Editor: KC 

Review on Everything Theatre

paradoxical gasp poster.png

Research at Wellcome Collection


Psychotherapy Workshop at The Crypt Gallery


Panel Discussion at Wellcome Collection


Post-show Talk at St. Pancras Church

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