Gayle Chong Kwan

Journal Entries



I have spent the summer shooting a moving image work in Mauritius, an island that has changed significantly since my last visit nearly 10 years ago - more of the island's beaches are built on by hotels, and many sites of nature and animal habitats are under threat from both development and tourism. I have been interviewing and working with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation and Kew Gardens in relation to the fate of the hyophorbe amaricaulis. The work I developed from it is:

Gayle Chong Kwan, ‘Plot’ (2014)
HD video, 12 mins

Plot Four, Chemin de Moulin Casse, Perybere, Mauritius. Grasses grow around my knees, insects persist my feet. Parceled between tourist developments in the north of the island, this plot teems with funereal mounds of waste, the few remaining punctuations of bird wetland habitat in the midst of a sea of concrete, bricks, plaster and paint, in an incrementally theatricalized version of a paradise. From a small parcel of wasteland in Mauritius, owned by her family, Chong Kwan travels in real, constructed and animated landscapes, in search for the sole remaining member of a species of palm, the hyophorbe amaricaulis, or 'the Loneliest Palm', which is at risk of the same fate as that of the island’s Dodo. The work moves between documentary, day and night-time imaginings, simulacrum, the sublime, construction and waste, and ends with a haunting childhood song by the artist's 99 year old Great Aunt, herself the last of a generation.