Artify Gallery exhibited selected photographs from two of Eiffel Chong's series, Seascape and This Used To Be My Playground.
Taken at different locations along coastal Asia, the photographs are united in their composition. Carefully orchestrated by Chong, each image alludes to man as a creator, defined however by the parameters set by nature. Be it a buoy, boat, seemingly abandoned pier, kitsch crab statue or conglomeration of skyscrapers in our familiar Hong Kong, the traces left by man are generously featured in the center of Chong’s works. Blending into the lucid ocean and sky, the human world coexists with nature seamlessly in the fictional space skillfully crafted by Chong.
With the help of the Neutral Density filter, Chong glosses his images with a pastel film, which gives his works a zen-like tranquil quality, almost too still at a first glance. However, carefully maneuvered is the same ratio of the sky to the sea across the series, which when displayed panoramically side by side, reflects the manifolds of nature’s colours across time and space. Marveling at nature’s unfathomable depths, Chong situates the human world comfortably within, celebrating the complexity of the expanse we create together. In a manner closely resembling Dutch Master oil paintings newly freed from the Catholic tradition, Chong’s photographs adopt realism capturing the essence of the visible landscapes while experimenting with unconventional aesthetic practices.
This Used To Be My Playground:
This Used To Be My Playground is an exploration of Eiffel Chong’s ongoing photographic series of abandoned spaces – capturing the rapid growth in the metropolises of Malaysia and Hong Kong, where collective and personal histories tracing the faint memories of contemporary society are revealed in print.
Chong began this series in 2005. Central to this exhibition, and extended to Chong’s oeuvre is the Freudian notion of Death – a ‘fear of extinction.’ The images in This Used To Be My Playground address this in-between state, portraying the pain that lingers not with a place itself but with the things left by human being at a particular place. In the artist’s words, “the unbearable traumatic feeling in us wanting to know what will happen next after knowing what has happened.” Chong’s practice revolves around the idea of fragility, of human life within the rapid flux of a city, and of built structure within an increasingly unpredictable natural environment.
In viewing the works, the audience is confronted simultaneously with the remnants of the past, the emptiness of the present and the uncertainty of the future. This is amplified with local familiarity by the five new works created by Chong in-situ around Hong Kong – a city where building and advancement is given precedence over all. By carefully interweaving notions of memory, place and identity, Chong constructs scenarios that hinge on the boundary of fiction and reality to play on the psychology of life and death.