about ongoing works contact
  View Recent Works
  2008 Exhibition

An installation art project


9th to 20th January 2008

  The Substation Gallery



The artist, Susie Wong, examines the meaning of portraits in contemporary context. Portraits predominantly exist as cultural objects in a Chinese society. With this in mind, she re-proposes the portrait’s significance and meaning under western conventions, while conveying significant contemporary ideas.

Trace is an installation, comprising portraits, that indicts the images of smiling children, generally thought to be free from wounding or loss, with the apprehension of an impending absence.


Artist statement:


“We cannot escape from time when we consider life as a corporeal one (life is in a state of continual dying, Thomas More), or how we conjecture on loss and injury within our cultural psyches. Death is like time - it is the constant hum that moves alongside. “Death is hidden in the clocks” (quoted by Calvino, Six Memos). In Chinese cultural psyche, the notion is death is dealt with through the practice of keeping ancestral portraits as part of ancestral worship: in such an instance, time is also defeated by this memorialisation.

The work attempts to capture that still moment, that one split second when it stretches into eternity. This is also when death sits between the moment of presence and absence, between the visible and the invisible. Through the act of tracing, I attempt to “connect the visible trace with the invisible thing, the absent thing…” (Calvino, Six Memos, 77)”

Likewise, this installation can be viewed in 3 parts: the present, the absent and that in-between. The installation comprises photographs, prints, and tracings.

The photograph is proof of presence (yet according to theorist Barthes, photographs are conjectures of death in the future), and the traces – made in multiples – are strategies that suggest both a concrete presence and its continuing dissipation as well.

  back to top
  Current work in progress
  Wong traces the portrait through Chinese traditions and culture; the portrait inhabits darkened corners, it is carried on the backs of numerous generations (traditionally through the eldest son), it is bowed to and food is offered to it on anniversaries of birth and death.  She offers only one perspective on the portrait – one in which weight, all the mighty conjectures of material life, can be transcended for a lightness.


  untitled, 2007
  back to top
© 2004-2007 Susie Wong . All Rights Reserved