The Enigmas at Red Hook is a collection of five short stories created by Ruixuan Li. Inspired from her research about the Hurricane Sandy, this multimedia work includes not only flash fictions, but also drawings, manipulated images, edited audios, and data visualizations, etc. As an assembly of contemporary folklores, a visual essay, and a multifaceted regional profiles, The Enigmas at Red Hook serves as an elegy and provides alternative readings of the neighborhood’s entanglement with that tragedy.

Ruixuan has led a nomadic way of life since age 8. With strong nostalgia about all those cities she had been living in and her birthplace where was recently demolished, she maintains a curatorial focus on how to preserve collective memory against the loss of place in her many art projects. For her, community is a vessel for its residents’ common emotions, and an ongoing memorial process is essential to foster the community’s emotional identification. Realizing that the entire Red Hook community has been heavily affected by the storm since 2012, she decided to learn about how Red Hook has changed from one of the most authentic New York gentrified neighborhoods after Sandy. Through the media of urban legendary, Ruixuan tries to narrate the complexity of the residents’ desires, preoccupations and fears of this era.

During her artist residency at DE-CONSTRUKT in Feburary 2019, Ruixuan interviewed plenty of Red Hook locals and collected their personal memories about what Sandy has brought to the community in the past 6 years. The contributors range from a wide spectrum of backgrounds: nonprofit organizations, small business owners, low-income residents, and newly relocated artists, etc. She also took a great deal of photos in the streets, which have prompted her storytelling as well as visual content creation with inspiring materials.

The Enigmas at Red Hook reveals multiple layers of attitudes and feelings towards Sandy-related happenings. From the narratives of Red Hook yuppies, cultural historians, a restaurant manager as well as two teenagers, the short stories draw a thread that links key events such as Red Hook Resiliency, the ball fields cleanup, and the Barnacle Parade together.

ABOUT Ruixuan Li

Ruixuan Li is an independent curator, writer, art researcher who is currently based in Ithaca, NY. She has co-curated and contributed to several multimedia exhibitions and public events for art institutions in San Francisco Bay Area, such as Spectrum Art Auction, Essinova, Wattis Institute for the Contemporary Arts, and Kadist Art Foundation, etc. Her exhibition proposals have been shortlisted in several competitions host by art organizations such as apexart in New York City and FY Foundation in Shanghai. Alongside her curatorial work, she has been a contributing writer for The Arts Newspaper China, ARTCO, and @LOFT Magazine for many years.