One Day Sculpture  
             
     
 
 
 

Kah Bee Chow

(b. Penang, Malaysia, 1980; lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand)
COMMISSIONED BY Enjoy Public Art Gallery

       


     

Kah Bee Chow, Golden Slumbers, Wellington, 31 August 2008. Commissioned by Enjoy Public Art Gallery for One Day Sculpture.
Photos: Stephen Rowe except photos 6 & 8 by Maia McDonald
(click to enlarge)


Golden Slumbers

Sunday 31 August 2008, 9am-9pm

Backyard of 10 Haining St, Central Wellington


Click here for a map


Click here for a view of the project poster

   (Design: Kerry Ann Lee)


> Click here for Anna Sanderson's commissioned 

   critical response

Kah Bee Chow, research/promotional image for Golden
Slumbers. 10 Haining Street, June 2008. Photo: Maia McDonald

“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.

Titled Golden Slumbers the project was partly conceived as an imagined narrative of Joe Kum Yung’s afterlife. Chow says “Joe was a miner, destitute, alone at the time of his death with long-abandoned dreams of the elusive ‘Sum Gum Saan’, a new gold mountain, the faded promise of the Otago goldfields.” The artist  created both a fanciful wish-fulfilment and antidote to Joe’s invisibility as his biography was eclipsed by his murderer Terry’s folk-hero notoriety.

Chow draws a common aspirational connection between herself and Joe Kum Yung. “We are separated by 100 years but Joe and I, as first-generation immigrants to New Zealand, perhaps shared in common the impossible spectacular projected fantasies onto this land that drew us here.” Chow emigrated to New Zealand at age 12 and says her delusions were less gilded but not less imagined, and age-appropriate: she “held onto the prepubescent persistence that New Zealand would equate to my Southern Hemisphere Sweet Valley, as appropriated from sugar-coated American teen fiction.”

This pool/pull of memory of things that never existed in New Zealand link Chow to the strangeness and tragedy of the delusions of grandeur that initially tied Chow, Joe and Terry to this place.
 
The project curator Paula Booker notes, “Chow’s ONE DAY SCULPTURE imagines and re-creates the gold miner’s Sum Gum Saan but she also spatially and socially engages with the memory and disappearance of the things that really did exist.”

Wellington’s Chinatown has disappeared, due to a range of circumstances including urban development and changing views towards immigrants that led to greater acceptance of Chinese migration to the suburbs. Golden Slumbers is built upon conversations with the present Haining Street community, the people who have an investment in its history and the Chinese community. This is not an exercise of inserting history to a site that no longer remembers its past, but an attempt to study the perseverance of spatial and cultural memory in lieu of, or as a compensation for, its physical disappearance.


--

(1) Shum, Lynette, Remembering Haining Street: With Both Eyes Open. (Accessed 9 July 2008)


BIOGRAPHY


 

[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.

 
 
 

LIZ ALLAN

 

LARA ALMARCEGUI

 

BILLY APPLE

 

NICK AUSTIN

 

DOUGLAS BAGNALL

 

BIK VAN DER POL

 

BEKAH CARRAN

 

KAH BEE CHOW

 

THOMAS HIRSCHHORN

 

AMY HOWDEN-CHAPMAN

 

ADAM HYDE

 

MADDIE LEACH

 

JAMES LUNA

 

HEATHER AND IVAN MORISON

 

KATE NEWBY

 

ROMAN ONDÁK

 

MICHAEL PAREKOWHAI

 

PAOLA PIVI

 

SANTIAGO SIERRA

 

SUPERFLEX

 

JAVIER TELLEZ

 

RIRKRIT TIRAVANIJA

 

ZOË WALKER AND NEIL BROMWICH

 

BEDWYR WILLIAMS