Paradise (2020 - ongoing)
Paradise is a rubbing project collecting particular stone statues and stone animals erected during British-Malaya period from Chinese cemeteries in Malaysia. Stone statues usually stand the front both sides of the Chinese tombs as tomb-guardians and funeral decoration. This kind of ancestral custom was practised by wealthy influential family and Chinse officials who were conferred official rank from Qing governor at that time. Meanwhile, plenty of Chinese immigrants migrated to different places in southeast Asia during the Qing dynasty.
The meaning of death is also a beginning of the next life in the Chinese funeral tradition, so the function of stone statues is not only as guardians protecting the tomb, but also demonstrates the status of the deceased through the tomb-design. The stone statues of Qing style tombs symbolise that the ancient Chinese believed in an after-life with many similar trappings as their lived experience. The deceased would still need military protection and housekeeper, along with animals and entertainers after they died, which would also bring them good luck and in their next life. However, only the first rank to the fifth rank of the Qing officials can build up stone statues at their tombs, and from the sixth rank below are not allowed to join this funeral specification, according to the Ministry of Public Works of Daqing Huidian (Collected Statutes of the Great Qing).
Tombs can be a storable medium that stores and bears history and memory in some way. Thus, Kian seeks to examine its materiality via utilising the visual symbol of funeral artefacts to construct an imaginary scene that between the present-life and the after-life. Paradise is also an illusionary enclave that conveys fragmental fragility in relating to desire and death, British colonialism and the foreign relations of the Qing dynasty.
The rubbing process of Paradise in 4 mins