Ancestor seeks to examine and question the family context in eliciting hidden narratives of diasporic displacement. In this section, Kian tries to find the ancestral tombstone of his great-grandfather, a first-generation Chinese from mainland China. He utilises touching as a commemorative method to rub the tombstone and transform it into the same size soft sculpture as the original. In the site-specific spatiality, through touching every detail of the tombstone structure – from the leading personal detail structure to both sides. A tombstone can be interpreted as an identity of an immigrant overseas that embraces a double exposure of individual/ family narrative and as storage that bears the deceased’s story. While doing the rubbing, Kian was curious about under what circumstances his great-grandfather decided to leave China, which inspirals him to dig out potential narratives about the considerable migration period.
The original tombstone was erected in 1969.
As a fourth Chinese generation in Malaysia, Kian traditionally 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 with a blood relation to the former age. To Kian, the memory of his family history is blurry 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.