Paradise (2020 - ongoing)
Paradise is a rubbing project collecting particular statues and stone animals erected during the British-Malaya period from Chinese cemeteries in Malaysia. Stone statues usually stand the front on both sides of the Chinese tombs as tomb guardians and funeral decorations. This kind of ancestral custom was practised by wealthy influential families and Chinse officials who were conferred an official rank by the Qing governor then. Meanwhile, many Chinese immigrants migrated to different places in Southeast Asia during the Qing dynasty.
The meaning of death is also the 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 to demonstrate the status of the deceased through the tomb design. The stone statues of Qing-style tombs symbolise the ancient Chinese who believed in an afterlife with many similar trappings to their lived experience. The deceased would still need military protection and housekeepers, along with animals and entertainers after they died, which would also bring them good luck in their next life. However, only the first rank to the fifth rank of the Qing officials could build up stone statues at their tombs, and from the sixth rank below were 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 by utilising the visual symbol of funeral artefacts to construct an imaginary scene between the present life and the afterlife. Paradise is also an illusionary enclave that conveys fragmental fragility relating to desire and death, British colonialism and the foreign relations of the Qing dynasty.
The rubbing process of Paradise in 4 mins