botanic : Endemic

solo exhibition by chris chong chan fui

29 June - 23 July 2017

Sabah born Malaysian Chris Chong Chan Fui’s dynamic artistic practice cuts across various platforms, from moving image, painting, photography and installations. Chris queries society’s uncanny yet seemingly normalised relationships between natural and man-made constructs of and in the everyday. They suggest a deep-seated appetite for control, inevitably determining what survives ‘human preference’ above ‘natural selection’.

Presented in this exhibition are parts of BOTANIC, first created for Singapore Biennale 2013, and ENDEMIC, featuring mechanised sculptures representing possibly extinct Bornean plants. ENDEMIC was commissioned for the Secret Archipelago exhibition at Palais de Tokyo in Paris in 2015. Both works were developed with Chan + Hori Contemporary’s Curatorial Director Khairuddin Hori.

BOTANIC is a series of large-scale prints that presents the viewer with the subtle and jarring discovery that they are in fact, professionally rendered botanical illustrations of common, mass-produced household plastic flowers. Methodically dissected, clinical and devoid of colours, these drawings call to mind anthropological and natural history drawings from colonial past. Our initial romanticisism of nature conjured from the detail of the illustration turns ugly, as we are deceived and embarrassed
by its plasticity.

ENDEMIC is an installation of mechanized and manufactured copies of rare endemics of Mount Kinabalu, Malaysian Borneo. Using two points of references, (1) field research photographs and (2) botanical illustrations, these fabricated clones are equipped with mechanized subtly-moving petals. ENDEMIC reflect various definitions of the native and of the origin; an endemic "unmovable" species that can only migrate through an artificial reproduction within a manufacturing process.

Chris Chong Chan Fui has exhibited his works at the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden (Smithsonian Institute), Palais de Tokyo, EYE Film Institute Netherlands, Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art, and Singapore Art Museum. He has also premiered at prestigious film festivals such as the Cannes' Directors’ Fortnight, Vienna, BFI London, and Toronto's Wavelengths. His works are in the public collections of the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden
and the Singapore Art Museum.

Chris is also a Ford Foundation fellow, and was recently awarded the 2016 Smithsonian Institute Fellowship (Washington D.C.). He has participated in the Cité internationale des arts artist residency (Paris), and the NTU Center for Contemporary Art artist-research residency (Singapore).