Isaac Chong Wai

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Blindspot Gallery

Blindspot Gallery is pleased to present a solo booth featuring works by Isaac Chong Wai (b. 1990), working between Berlin and Hong Kong. Influenced by personal events and global phenomena, he engages themes of collectivism and individualism, nationalism and post-colonialism, as well as historical memories. Chong’s presentation, titled “Breath by Breath”, will center around the phenomenon when we breathe onto glass, the air fogs up the surface, leaving a blurry and ghostly mark that fades over time. Using video, photography, and etched glass sculptures, Chong memorializes the fragility and temporality of life, investigating our mourning and commemoration of it by considering “breath marks” as transient trails of the living. Tracing breath marks across nations and histories, the artist uses his breath to contour the performance of sorrow and to conceal the memorial that is narrated by the state. More information on the presentation can be found here.

In Breath Marks: Queen Elizabeth II and Crying Hong Kong Girl (2023), the set of “breath-painting” print and glass sculpture portrays an image circulated amongst Hong Kong social media, of a young girl sorrowfully grasping photos of the late Queen Elizabeth II. The girl bawls on the ground next to a public memorial outside the British Consulate in Hong Kong. She received criticism amongst netizens for how she had no direct relations with the Queen and too young to have experienced colonial Hong Kong, hence the ambivalence as to why she was so devastated.

Through this work, Chong refle ...

Chong’s Breath Marks: Mother with Her Dead Son (2022), comprising a life-size photographic print and a glass sculpture, depicts an abstracted image of the sculpture Pieta by German expressionist artist Käthe Kollwitz. Kollwitz created the sculpture in 1937 to 1939 to pay tribute to her son who was killed in World War I; an enlarged version of the sculpture currently sits within Neue Wache memorial. In Chong’s Breath Marks: Mother with Her Dead Son, he channels the moving pathos of Kollwitz by using his breath mark as a paint brush, delineating the contours of her sculpture. ...

The video piece Neue Wache (2015) shows Chong in front of a grand window that overlooks the rear façade of Neue Wache, Berlin’s national monument for the victims of wars and tyranny since 1931. Chong repeatedly breathes onto the glass window until the view of Neue Wache is entirely obscured by breath marks, a scene achieved through digital manipulation. The clouded image of the national memorial spotlights the politics of memories and the malleability of state-sanctioned historical truths, pointing to the question of who gets to be commemorated and who is remembered as the perpetrator?