The Exploration of Immigrants: 

The Ancestor    (2019)



The ancestor is the third section of the Exploration of Immigrants which seeks to examine and question the family context in eliciting hidden narratives of the diasporic displacement. In this section, Kian tries to find out the ancestral tombstone of his great grandfather, who is a first-generation Chinese who came from mainland China. He utilises the idea of touching as a commemorative method to do rubbing with the tombstone and transforming it into the same size soft sculpture of the original. In the site-specific spatiality, through touching every detail of the tombstone structure – from main personal detail structure to both sides. A tombstone can interpret as an identity of an immigrant overseas which embraces a double exposure of individual/ family narrative, also as storage that bearing the deceased’s story. While doing the rubbing, Kian was very curious about in what circumstances his great grandfather decided to leave China and inspiral him to dig out potential narratives about the considerable migration period.


(The original tombstone presents as a typical Hokkien funeral style, it was erected in 1969.)

As a fourth Chinese generation in Malaysia, traditionally Kian has kept the surname and the place-name of ancestral residence (Fujian/ Hokkien) from his great grandfather. Nonetheless, he does not have a blood relation to him. Because his great grandfather adopted his grandfather, and his father was adopted by his grandfather, which means he is the first generation who has a blood relation to the former generation. To Kian, the memory of his family history is very blur and uncertain, but it has inspired him to question and explore fragmental parts of his Chinese identity. ​


Yet, this section does not only question his family narrative but a way that allows people to imagine possibilities during the transition in Southeast Asia like the issues of diasporic displacement, child adoption or even immigrant policy.

The process of The Ancestor in 1 min