The Remnants of Yesterday bridges two materials—porcelain and gelatine silver that both embrace timelessness in unfolding the tactility of memory. The work presents the delicate relations between the attempts to recall and the memories one could hold on to. Is there an original form of memory?
The cheongsam, a traditional garment of Chinese women, of my Grandmother weaves a poetic connection between my family history and the history of Hong Kong textile industry in the old days. My grandfather owned a small textile factory in Kowloon City in the 1960-70s. Beautiful clothes are exported to America and worldwide. Grandmother would use the fabric remnants to make clothes for herself and the family. The textile industry was seeded in squatter factories. A few sewing machines turned a household into a garment workshop, which has a collective memory rooted in many families. The project takes a micro-perspective weaving a personal narrative into the social-historical fabric of the city under globalism.
Having found the very cheongsam patched together from odds and ends by my grandmother in the first family portrait from the album, I pressed it against a thin clay slab indexically imprinting each crease of the fabric. I transformed the photographic process into actions of tracing, recording and re-writing. The work echoes that of grandma's daily practice of flipping the same photo album over and over in an attempt to recall her faltering memory. Regarding the porcelain plate as a memory matrix, I develop it into a series of gelatine silver photograms in a range of shades. The repetition weaves the images into an abstract memory scape with an x-ray impression unveiling the fluidity and fragility of memory.
相：38.6 x49.8cm （一組21張）
Image courtesy of Tai Kwun Contemporary. Photo: Kwan Sheung Chi.