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Kah Bee Chow at Window

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You have the complexity of the projected film itself that avoids any obvious narrative, and the added suggestion of memories, reverie, real experienced reflection and overlaid transparency contained within it, plus other resonating connecting repetitions surfacing with the surrounding installation. Particularly the vertical fabric sandwiches of 'blue'.

Auckland

 

Kah Bee Chow
Harshmellow

 

28 July - 19 August 2010

The current video installation by Kah Bee Chow on site at Window seems to be a meditation on surface: the immateriality (yet substance) of thin planes, especially transparent ones. It suggests a metaphor for human encounter and interpersonal perception, and features glass in the way it has occasionally been used by other artists such as Dan Graham with his two-way mirror glass Pavilions, but with an interest in ‘normal’ overlapping reflection - not reflected and overlapping distortion. It has a very watery feel.

On the back wall is a small shelf holding a projector which projects a film onto a small rectangle of thin film stuck on the front glass. There are also broken sections of mirror leaning against the lower back wall and squares of intact mirror lying on the floor.

Also conspicuous is a long sagging rectangle of plain blue fabric suspended from a rail near the front ‘window’. Behind it and to one side is another similar rectangle of blue material, on which are printed lots of white crumpled folds and creases. It looks like the negative of a photograph (perhaps one taken by Richard Frater?). The two pieces of fabric are in a sense parallel in their joint use of ‘on’, ‘in’ or ‘through’ like that which you would get with mirrors or panes of clear glass.

With the film on the ‘window’ various items become apparent via overlaid moving imagery. Some layers are single, like shots of a cat on a bed in the warm sunlight, happily licking its genitals. Others are double, like those of several golden carp in a pond with reflected leaves from trees above them showing on the surface of the water, or hovering white jellyfish in a tank with people seen through the water rushing by in reverse on the other side of the room. Others still are multiple, with the artist showing herself filming as reflected in a porch window, and with double exposures then incorporated, or made deliberately confusing: such as images of a Japanese family, the mother filmed directly while preparing food, or the father playing with his son, projected as a film onto a paper screen-wall.

Not only is this a beautifully arranged installation with its carefully positioned elements, but the layering and mystery of the images and their half-blended, overlapping juxtapositions, make it stand up to many repeated viewings. You have the complexity of the projected film itself that avoids any obvious narrative, and the added suggestion of memories, reverie, real experienced reflection and overlaid transparency contained within it, plus other resonating connecting repetitions surfacing with the surrounding installation. Particularly the vertical sandwiches of ‘blue’.

This is a particulalrrly classy and lyrical exhibition. It’s worth making a special trip to the Auckland University library foyer to see.

John Hurrell

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