A sensitive and singular approach to sustainability issues and participatory and inclusive experiences are the essence of the work of British artist Gayle Chong Kwan (1973), on show from 22 May in her solo exhibition Waste Archipelago at Alberta Pane gallery in Venice.
New photographic, paper and installation works, created from food waste and other organic elements, weave osmotic dialogues in the exhibition space: cut-outs and fragments, peels and scraps, collages and photographs are the starting point for a reflection that extends to colonial expansion, the exploitation of natural resources and ecological disasters.
Winner of the 2019 Sustainable Art Prize, Gayle Chong Kwan has worked for more than a year with students and academics at Ca' Foscari University of Venice, with the aim of exploring theories, conceptions and perspectives on these issues, and then developing a project that focuses on waste as a virtuous matter that permeates everyday life.
The solo exhibition at the Venice gallery is closely linked to this research, which it deliberately echoes: an immersive and enveloping show in which the central concept of the archipelago aims to bring out, visually and conceptually, the interconnection between actions and ideas that humanity enacts and elaborates around waste and residue. Chong Kwan explores the central role of the body and its relationship within a natural system of correlations, and the potentials that this perspective can offer.
Gayle Chong Kwan is a London-based artist, whose large-scale photographic installation, sound, participatory, and video work is exhibited nationally and internationally, both in major galleries and in the public space. Her work is an ongoing investigation into simulacra and the sublime, which she explores through constructed immersive environments and mise en scenes.
The personal and global politics of food and tourism is a major focus of Gayle Chong Kwan's practice. Her work is often specific to a context and she explores histories, memory and senses. The artist's pieces take the viewer on a journey across countries and civilizations, exploring the relationship between food and culture, and underlying the importance of waste in giving measure to our lives. Playing with scale and merging the real and the constructed, she has often created large and multilayered installations, exploring the built environment, strata and waste, as well as many mythical landscapes, created through arrangements of foods.
Gayle Chong Kwan has recently taken part in a photographic residency at the V&A Museum, London (2021 - 2019); moreover, she exhibited at Museum Arnhem, Netherlands (2019), Auckland Arts Festival in New Zealand (2019), Tai Kwun in Hong Kong (2019), at The Edge, Bath University, UK (2019), at the William Morris Gallery (2018) and the Barbican Centre, London (2017), at the Alberta Pane Gallery in Paris and Venice (2017) and at Bloomberg Space, London (2015).
Gayle Chong Kwan took part in major biennials such as the Asia-Pacific Berlin Biennale, the 54th Venice Biennale and the 10th Havana Biennial and won multiple awards including the British Council's International Artist Award (2015), the FATHOM Award, Four Corners, London (2014) and the Vauxhall Collective Photography Prize (2009). As the winner of the Sustainable Art Prize, promoted by Ca' Foscari University of Venice in collaboration with Art Verona, since 2019 the artist has been developing, through workshops and reflections with students and academics, Waste Matters, a project the outcomes of which will take shape from 25 June on the facade of the University's central building, accompanied by participatory activities and online contributions.