Institutionalised Care | Before the World Fell To Pieces
Set of two books
images are from the photo series of the same name
Hospitals, better known as medical centres have come a long way to become a very ‘hotel looking’ institution. All these are to ensure that medical centres provide a comfortable and accommodative place. Gone were the days where medical centres were illuminated with fluorescent lightings, unclean toilets and white walls that were full with informative posters from the Ministry of Health.
Today, medical centres are decorated with flowers, carpets covering the cemented floor, suites filled with televisions that provide ‘satellite’ channels, interiors illuminated by warm tungsten lighting and so forth. These are to ensure that the patients will not feel themselves being in a hospital. This, in a way, will help them to relax and not to worsen their condition.
But, most of the patients still feel terrified with the medical equipments that they come across to. Why things like this happen? Is it because the equipments were something that they do not recognised? Or perhaps it is something that they remember seeing, and having an unpleasant memory of the equipment? Or, the equipments somehow trigger their inner psychological terror?
Shouldn’t the modern technologies, medicines and machines help us to ‘defeat’ death? Or are they the harbinger of death itself.
Institutionalised Care is a study of the ‘sign of death’ in the medical centre. It could arise from the viewers’ past experience, sickness (as in claustrophobia, etc) or knowledge from the mass media, movies, etc. Every individual image suggest ‘death’ though they are images of equipments that are supposedly to be safe, as in saving people’s life.
This series of works educate us that however limitless our wealth or power may seem, the reality of our eventual demise cannot be avoided.
Before the World Fell To Pieces
The world is going to end this year.
Or so says interpretations of the ancient Mayan calendar. For some this means the beginning of a new philosophical era, for others it marks the apocalyptic ending of our planet. Although dismissed by science, the end of the world is a compelling prophecy deeply embedded into popular consciousness, inspiring numerous narratives across time and culture. However it is not disaster in progress but rather the ominous calm before an unimaginable demise that Malaysian photographer, Eiffel Chong seizes upon in his first solo at Valentine Willie Fine Art. Presenting two bodies of work: A Matter of Life and Death and A Fragile Thing Called Man, Chong shares his obsessions with mortality and human excess by using landscape and objects to create an ominous vision of society.
A Matter of Life and Death has been an ongoing series for the artist since 2009. Visually drawn to the connection between space and place, he creates mysteries of silent isolation. After scrutiny and reflection, surreal narratives are then inferred through a careful choice of titles suggesting history, politics and states of collapse.
For A Fragile Thing Called Man, Chong used a Hasselblad camera to create dramatic miniaturised landscapes through a special technique called tilt shift, where the lens is moved in a certain way to create selective focus. As sites of leisure and daily life, each image could be from the viewpoint of a higher being looking down on mankind, judging our histories, frowning at how we have manipulated the world around us.
As a selection of visual short stories, Before the World Fell to Pieces is a deceptively poetic exhibition that belies a critical judgment of Mankind as an excessive and deteriorating civilisation. It speaks of the frailty of a society unaware of the last and final act of karmic retribution.
Institutionalised Care | Before the World Fell To Pieces / Eiffel Chong
Eiffel Chong graduated with an MA in International Contemporary Art and Design Practice from the University of East London and a BA (Hons) in Photography from London College of Printing. Besides his production of photographic work, Chong is highly engaged with the Malaysian photographic community; taking on the role of mentor for the Nikon Shooting Stars programme and Exposure+ Workshop. In addition, he has been appointed to the panel of judges for the Kuala Lumpur Photography Awards 2016 & 2013 and 2017 Annual Nikon Photo Awards, Malaysia.
Eiffel Chong’s work considers abstract concepts of life and death through the banal details, silent landscapes and curious obsessions he observes from daily life. He is interested in how the photographic medium can translate a particular time and space, memories and thoughts into something permanent. He personally thinks that the images say more with less, and makes one just want to stare and think about it.
More of his work can be viewed on http://www.eiffelchong.com