“Tales of the Altersea” is the primary ever solo exhibition in the USA by Stockholm-based artist Lap-See Lam. Centered upon a room-spanning video and CGI set up of the identical identify, “Tales of the Altersea” marks a continuation of Lam’s invocation of shuttered or bought Chinese language eating places in Europe, and, extra broadly, her poetic interpretations of the lives of Hong Kong Chinese language communities in diaspora.
Within the 2010s, Lam used a 3-D scanner to doc the interiors of a number of Chinese language eating places in Stockholm, together with one run by her mother and father, that grew to become bancrupt. Marked by glitches, her architectural archives forge visible and historic hyperlinks between these areas, highlighting chinoiserie as a diasporic code of previous and current. The interaction amongst cultural signifiers, mythologies and ancestral expertise gas Lam’s storytelling, which unfolds at SI as a shadow play, a conventional type of Chinese language folklore disseminated in Europe by way of imperialistic commerce routes.
The scenography of this central 8-channel video attracts from the décor and imagery of 1 such restaurant: the floating Sea Palace. Within the early Nineteen Nineties, this three-storey ship with seats for 230 eating company was commissioned by Johan Wang, a entrepreneur in Sweden. It sailed from Shanghai to Europe, docking in numerous cities however failing economically after just one 12 months. The restaurant ship lay moored in Gothenburg the place it fell into decay till 2018, when it was dropped at Stockholm the place it’s yearly repurposed as a haunted funhouse within the metropolis’s Gröna Lund amusement park every Halloween. The luminous underwater world we encounter in “Tales of the Altersea” unfolds from this misfit vessel, the place two protagonists, twin sisters, encounter a sequence of characters born out of Cantonese historical past and mythology. Accompanied by music and soundscape by composers Linus Hillborg and Marlena Salonen, and vocals by Bruno Hibombo, the story follows the ladies throughout a journey of journey and discovery. This panorama is bookended by neon and brass sculptures of verdant traces of a dragon head and tail on the bow and stern of the ship that glow in SI’s decrease stage staircase and hallway.
In synthesizing antiquated and up to date manufacturing strategies, together with types of magical realism and oral historical past, Lam maps situations of generational and cultural loss subsequent to identification and disidentification with cultural constructs. By means of her forensics and her poetry, she signifies what would possibly blossom in these vacancies.
at Swiss Institute, New York
till August 27, 2023