Interval II  - Suki Chan’s beautiful new film installation exploring our transient relationship to the built environment – showing at Chinese Arts Centre until 22 December 2008

Interval II is a high definition tryptich film installation examining the traces of human presence between two contrasting landscapes: a cast-iron pier on the northwest coast of England and a traditional Hakka roundhouse in southwest China. Using light, sound and moving image, Interval II presents a poetic portrait of the significance within the architectures and invite the viewer to slow down and contemplate our relationship to the world around us.

Chan uses time-lapse to condense hours into seconds and capture the movement of shadows and light over the two structures from night to day. The atmospheric soundtrack accompanying the work uses edited Hakka songs from the artist’s grandmother’s tapes.

Interval II is inspired by the seasonal migration of birds, recalling the artist’s own childhood memory. Chan moved to the UK from Hong Kong with her family in the age of six. After the move she became a guest to her birthplace. Interval II was developed from the previous work Interval, a film recording the movement of light in her old family home in Hong Kong as it lay awaiting demolition. The film explores the artist’s connected-ness with her birthplace and a building filled with memory. The themes of time, memory and space are expanded in the new work as Chan juxtaposes two very different types of architecture.

The cast iron pier is an icon of industrialization and is a symbol of the Victorian grand vision for the advancement of humanity through science and technology. Boldly stretching out over the sea towards the horizon, the structure brings us closer towards the elements of nature as well as being a site of cultural activity. Today, many are falling into disrepair and a new community has taken refuge. Thousands of starlings returning to roost mark their arrival at the end of each day with mesmerizing swarming formations in the sky.

The roundhouses designed and built to protect its inhabitants from the elements of nature were historically inhabited by the migrant community of Hakkas or otherwise known as “guest people”. The round fortress-like form made from rammed earth is a result of the blending of the Hakka culture with local building materials and techniques. The form of this traditional dwelling articulates a collective spirit and an aspiration for security of the community. The round shape maximizes interior space whilst ensuring an equal split between the occupants, usually several generations of a large extended family. As China modernizes, many members of the family move away from these vernacular dwellings to the city in search of new opportunities.
The sensually-filled work hints at the social and cultural shifts within the respective societies whilst working to transport the viewer to a place between real and imaginary, past and future.

Suki Chan was born in Hong Kong and currently lives and works in London. She graduated with BA (Hons) from Goldsmiths College, London in 1999 and recently completed an MA in Fine Art at Chelsea School of Art, London. Chan has participated in solo and group shows, artist residencies and research projects in the UK and internationally, including Spain (El Tanque), Germany, America, Singapore and China (Museum of Contemporary Art). Recent shows include Sequence and Repetition, bridgeartfair and Jerwood Space, London. Her recent neon installation (Story of Rice 3) is collected by New Walk Museum.

Suki Chan is a featured artist in Chinese Arts Centre’s new publication, 21: Discussions with artists of Chinese descent in the UK. Featuring in-depth interviews with twenty-one UK-based Chinese artists and extensive imagery of their work, as well as group discussions and essays, 21 provides an insight into the individual art practices and explores the history of Chinese artists in the UK.