Artist: Kah Bee Chow
Exhibition title: 海海⻱龜
Venue: Tranen Contemporary Art Center, Hellerup, Denmark
Date: August 26 – October 19, 2017
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Tranen Contemporary Art Center
In her first solo exhibition in Denmark, Kah Bee Chow presents a family of forms and semblances, drawing from etymologies relating to animals, bodies, forms of protection and support.
The title of the exhibition consists of two Chinese characters which translate as sea turtle. In creation myths across the world, the turtle features as a foundational element; it carries the world upon its shell. The Latin term, testūdō, originally refers to the turtle. It is also historically used in Roman antiquity to describe a military formation composed of overlapping shields. Chow employs these relatives, resonances and rhythms throughout the exhibition as a cadence for her play with material, line, space and chubby proportions.
Tranen’s marbled floors and daylight flooded from its circular windows above serve as a point of departure for Chow; she reads the space as a snowy landscape. Its icy blankness is inhabited by small hollow rounded figures cast in wax. A hemispherical steel structure marks a circular enclosure, the arrangement of curved aluminum sheets suggesting a bare architecture, among other potential life-forms and cycles.
A video records how the Malaysian island Penang is losing its turtle shape. Construction expands into the sea, altering the coastline. Chow’s exhibition also spills into the exterior. Vinyl designs based on Chinese characters, turtles and other figures are applied onto the windows of the library café, visible from the gallery space.
Chow’s exhibition is accompanied by a folder with a text by the artist herself.
The exhibition has been supported by the Danish Arts Foundation and Fondet for Dansk-Svensk Samarbejde.
Kah Bee Chow (b. 1980) grew up in Penang, Malaysia, and Auckland, New Zealand. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Art in Malmö, where she now lives and works.