Gayle Chong Kwan: Cockaigne
14 July – 24 September 2006
Gayle Chong Kwan is an artist whose practice includes installation, sound, photography, and participatory works, which are often context specific or the result of working with temporary, conflicting or imaginary ‘communities’. Her work explores participation, communication, and authorship through food, fantasy, memory, and the senses, sometimes using methodologies from official or institutional processes and fusing these with imaginative elements.
Gayle Chong Kwan’s new series of twelve photographs are the latest contribution to the Fourteenth Century myth of a glutton’s paradise. In the land of Cockaigne all work is forbidden, hams grow on trees, houses are roofed with pies and rivers run with wine. Each image depicts a utopian or mythical landscape constructed entirely out of a single foodstuff. The landscapes share similar horizons and viewed as a whole they combine to form one fantastical panorama.
Yet these beautiful images are constructed from foodstuffs, which are verging on the repellent. The lard is beginning to sweat, the cheese is plastic and slimy, the dried meat infectious. Erudite, ambivalent and multi-layered, Cockaigne explores myths of paradise, pleasure and the exotic in tourism, European legend and the history of Fine Art.