CONSCIOUS by Suki Chan at the Bluecoat
This week, the Bluecoat launches the largest overview to date of Suki Chan’s multi-platform project CONSCIOUS. Suki Chan (UK/HK), b.1977, is an critically-acclaimed artist and filmmaker whose work uses moving image, photography, and sound to explore our perception of reality. CONSCIOUS brings together the diverse, subjective perspectives of scientists and ordinary people, whose multi-layered stories shake up our preconceptions about individual and collective consciousness. Within her wider study of consciousness and perception, the artist explores how memory loss destabilises our understanding of the present, while opening up other possible realities through her close collaborations with people living with dementia.
The exhibition includes photography, sculpture and three films Memory (2019); Hallucinations (2020) and Fog In My Head (2021), a major commission by Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network (FLAMIN). Memory shows the contrast between geological time and the human lifespan, exploring geological processes and processes in the brain. Subterranean panoramas of caves are juxtaposed with extraordinary aerial views of Somerset and time-lapse confocal imagery inside a developing brain. These enigmatic images are accompanied by voice-overs that tell of pilots caught between life and death, traversing the air above the earth, some able to reflect back on their hard-won experiences.
Hallucinations is an immersive journey into the personal experiences of two people who are living with dementia, juxtaposed with the perspective of two carers. The film reveals intimate details that convey how dementia changes perceptions – resulting in hallucinations, altered experiences of time and sense of identity. The two-channel video installation invites us to enter into the reality of Pegeen O’Sullivan, the daughter of Irish novelist, Liam O’Flaherty, who currently lives in a care village, and Wendy Mitchell, who wrote her first book after being diagnosed with young-onset dementia at the age of 58. The film transports us to their interior worlds, their personal journeys and perceptions of reality. The voices of O’Sullivan and residents, families and staff of the Belong care Village at Crewe, where Chan undertook an artist residency, spill out of tea cups in a new sculptural installation by the artist. The textured soundtrack is composed by Dominik Scherrer, winner of the 2014 Ivor Novello Award.
Chan’s most recent film in the CONSCIOUS series Fog in My Head commissioned by FLAMIN Productions contrasts real-world imagery with abstract scientific material. The artist takes the viewer on a sumptuous visual and aural journey: from the centre of a natural beehive, a developing brain, a home, an office and a forest. Connecting these distinct spaces is fog. The title refers to the quote “fog descending on the brain”, Wendy Mitchell’s metaphor for how the neurocognitive disorder dementia makes her feel. Fog is an analogy for the confusion, disorientation, isolation as well as the strange comfort that dementia brings.
Throughout the exhibition Suki Chan asks how do mind-altering diseases such as dementia destabilise our understanding of reality? And conversely what does this tell us about our own understanding and perception of reality? The artist makes space and gives value to the uncertain, the altered and the shifting, within her touching collaborations while investigating what it is to be ‘conscious’.
A presentation of selected works from CONSCIOUS will also be presented by Danielle Arnaud Gallery, London 18 March 2022 – 07 May 2022.
Note: All image credits are detailed in the attached image file names.
See an exclusive trailer of Suki Chan’s new film Fog In My Head, a major commission by Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network (FLAMIN): https://youtu.be/cg6QWQaPEW0
For permission to share the film trailer, please contact [email protected]
Notes to editors
About Suki Chan
Suki Chan is a London based artist and film director. Her films take audiences on an immersive journey, and shines a light on subjects that are under-represented across the human condition: from dementia, sight-loss, identity to belonging. Chan’s passion is to change perception and build empathy for other people’s realities.
Chan uses a range of media including installation, moving image, photography and sound to explore our subjective perception of reality. Her mesmerising film works draws the viewer into a cinematic ‘elsewhere’ to investigate memory, belief and knowledge systems.
Chan’s research-based practice sits at the intersection of art and science. Her work features dialogues with diverse communities from people living with dementia, blind and partially sighted people, commuters, meditators, to psychologists and neuroscientists. Chan seeks out narratives that explore alternative ways of looking at the world and stories that challenge and destabilise our understanding of perception and reality.
Chan has filmed in diverse locations and sites including contested sacred sites in the Middle East; Senate House Library in London; Hagia Sofia in Istanbul; and rammed earth roundhouses in Yunnan province associated with her Hakka heritage in China.
Chan’s work has been shown nationally and internationally including the Museum of London, David Roberts Art Foundation, London; Centre for Contemporary Chinese Art, Manchester; Liverpool Biennale; Art Basel Hong Kong, Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art, China; Frost Science Museum, Miami, US; Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan; and Dr. Bhau Daji Museum, Mumbai, India. Chan’s work is included in public and private collections in the UK and USA, including the Museum of London, David Roberts Art Foundation, The Ingram Collection and The Celebrity Art Collection on The Solstice ship.
This year Chan was selected for the BFI NETWORK x BAFTA Crew, a year long development programme delivered by BAFTA in partnership with BFI NETWORK.
In 2020 Chan was awarded Film London’s FLAMIN Productions, a major moving image artist award committed to nurturing talent and supporting innovative artists in their professional growth, supported by Arts Council England. She was also granted a bursary from Screenskills to develop new skills in VR.
Chan studied at Goldsmiths College and Chelsea School of Arts. She is a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art.
The Bluecoat is Liverpool’s contemporary arts centre, a working home for artists, and a place where audiences can experience art in new ways. Thirty artists, craftspeople, arts organisations and independent retailers make up the Bluecoat’s creative community, using studios, making facilities and workspace just minutes from the main shopping district, Liverpool ONE.
With a city centre location and striking, Grade I-listed building, the Bluecoat has a dynamic programme of exhibitions and events, an award-winning participation programme, bustling café and bistro. Our legendary garden and independent shops are open year-round. For over 300 years, the Bluecoat has stood at the centre of Liverpool life, a champion of visual art and visual culture, and a place that is always inspirational and open to all.
Bluecoat has presented significant solo shows of new work across the decades by artists including John Akomfrah, Jonathan Baldock, Sonia Boyce, Adham Faramawy, William Kentridge, Mark Leckey, Elaine Mitchener, Grace Ndiritu, Yoko Ono and Larissa Sansour.
Bluecoat is funded by Arts Council England, Liverpool City Council and Culture Liverpool. The presentation of CONSCIOUS at the Bluecoat is supported by the University of Salford Art Collection and the events programme is supported by Garfield Weston.
Suki Chan’s residency at the Crewe Belong Village was supported by Where the Arts Belong, a partnership between Bluecoat and care provider Belong, funded by Arts Council England and The Baring Foundation.
Memory (2019) is supported by Arts Council England, Somerset Art Works, Cheddar Gorge Caves, Film London, Somerset Film, Wildflower & Wetlands Trust.
Hallucinations (2020) is supported by Arts Council England, Science Gallery London, Film London, Baring Foundation, University of Salford, Islington Boat Club, Tintype Gallery, Crew Belong Village, Bluecoat.
Fog In My Head (2021) is commissioned by FLAMIN Productions through Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network in association with Bluecoat with support from Arts Council England.
Supported by Somerset Art Works, Cheddar Gorge Caves, Wildflower & Wetlands Trust, Promotions.
Suki Chan, 2021. Portrait by Katie Hyams
Memory, 2019 (film still), Nasa Satellite. Image courtesy Suki Chan, Film London and the Bluecoat.
Hallucinations, 2020 (film still), Pegeen Portrait. Image courtesy Suki Chan, Film London and the Bluecoat.
Fog In My Head, 2021 (film still), image courtesy Suki Chan, Film London and the Bluecoat.
Fog In My Head, location film shoot 2021, image courtesy the artist Suki Chan.
Fog In My Head, 2021 (film still), image courtesy Suki Chan, Film London and the Bluecoat.
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