Gayle Chong Kwan creates mise-en-scenes, fantastical landscapes, and environments, made out of disturbing arrangements of sensory waste, found materials and documentary sources. Her work explores myths, collective and contentious histories and the ambiguous relationship between reality, appropriation, fictional contemporary mechanisms, and latter day myths, to focus on the impact of contemporary developments in tourism, planning and urban development upon the landscape.
“Made up of food, leftovers and waste, the universe in images by Gayle Chong Kwan is a dialectic universe. It is aware of fictional contemporary mechanisms and the flowering of latter day myths. At the same time it is aware that each mythological form – even the most marketed and marketable – requires the support of ancestral insistences, appealing in this manner to profound common structures, which function underground in silence. The mythological constructions of Chong Kwan are sensorial in nature because they are saturated in mythical thought….We could therefore say that Chong Kwan does not structure her photos, she cooks them….. The construction materials for her works…are frequently perishable foods or waste. The land of Cockaigne does not only represent the myth of bounty, it also includes the opposing implication, the condemnation of excessive indulgence in food. That is why the processing of the food and the rite of cooking, which is primarily for conservation, is not an irreversible process here. There is an attention to the remains and to the breakdown that signs a return to the reality of shapelessness.” – Sergio Giusti, Italian academic on ‘Gayle Chong Kwan and the Sensorial Universe’, 2010
Gayle Chong Kwan is a London-based artist whose large-scale photographic works, installations, sound works and videos have been exhibited internationally.
Recent exhibitions include Wastescape, Festival of the World, Southbank Centre, 2012; Memory Trace, the Wellcome Trust, 2012; New Forest Pavilion, 54th Venice Biennale, 2011; The Obsidian Isle, Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow, 2011; Save the Last Dance for Me, Whose Map is it?, Iniva, London, 2010; Memoryscape Moravia, Centro Cultural de Moravia, Medellin, Colombia, 2009; 5×5 Castelló 09 Award, Espai d’art contemporani de Castelló, Spain, 2009; Tales from the New World, 10th Havana Biennial, Cuba, 2009; Utopia, Museu Berardo, Centro Cultural do Belem, Lisbon, 2009.
Awards include: Vauxhall Collective Award; Pepinieres Europeenes Pour Jeunes Artistes Award; Arts Council England International Fellow. Gayle Chong Kwan is represented by Galerie Alberta Pane, Paris; Galleria Uno + Uno, Milan; and Galleria Ines Barrenechea, Madrid. She is undertaking a PhD at the Royal College of Art, London, and holds a BA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, a BA in Politics and Modern History from Manchester University and an MSc in Communications from Stirling University.