“Once regarded at the most notorious slum area in New Zealand,” Wellington historian Lynette Shum notes, “Haining Street today is an industrial area that bears little indication of its sensationalist past.”(1) As the centre of Wellington’s Chinatown from the late 1800s-1940s, it also bore witness to the one of the most violent episodes in Chinese New Zealand history, when Englishman Lionel Terry shot dead Joe Kum Yung outside number 13 in 1905 as a protest against Chinese immigration into the country. Kah Bee Chow’s ONE DAY SCULPTURE, which occured on Sunday 31 August, is sited opposite this spot at number 10 Haining Street.
(1) Shum, Lynette, Remembering Haining Street: With Both Eyes Open. (Accessed 9 July 2008)
[LEFT] Kah Bee Chow, Afterlife, 2006
[CENTRE] Kah Bee Chow, Nine Dancing Ladies, Britomart, 2004
[RIGHT]Kah Bee Chow, Fallout, Special Gallery, 2006
The work of emerging conceptual artist Kah Bee Chow engages specifically with site-responsive and performance methodologies through politicised notions of place, identity and action. Incorporating a wide range of media including video, sculpture, performance, photography and text, Chow creates subtle situations of transformation or intervention.
The artist often performs in her work, such as in the video Nine Dancing Ladies (2004) which features Chow dancing certain scenes from New Wave film scenes in the Britomart precinct, downtown Auckland. The work is an observation on the emptiness of public spaces and an illustration of Chow's love/hate relationship with the results of her local city council's urban renewal project. Afterlife (2006) consisted of Chow letting go lightweight plastic parachutes from a well-known suicide site in the Port Hills outside Christchurch.
Solo exhibitions include Fallout, Special Gallery, Auckland (2006) and Chow-Browne, Anna Miles Gallery, Auckland (2005). Recent group exhibitions include You Are Here, ARTSPACE Auckland (2008), Telecom Prospect 2007: New Art New Zealand, City Gallery Wellington (2007), The 3rd Auckland Triennial (2007), Don't misbehave! SCAPE 2006 Biennial of Art in Public Space, Christchurch (2006), Mostly Harmless: A Performance Series, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth (2006), The New Situationists, Canary Gallery, Auckland (2006) and The Bed You Lie In, Artspace (2004).
Kah Bee Chow was born in Malaysia and raised in Auckland where she attended the Auckland University of Technology from 2001-2003. Chow is currently based in Auckland.