Lap-See Lam / Dreamers’ Quay, Dreamers’ Key

9 feb 3 apr 2022

The exhibition Dreamers’ Quay, Dreamers’ Key at Bonniers Konsthall is composed like an all-encompassing installation where shadow play, sculptures and music take visitors on a journey through time, space and dreams. This is the artist Lap-See Lam’s most comprehensive solo exhibition to date and explores the narrative of the Cantonese diaspora in Sweden.

For this exhibition, Lam has collaborated innovatively with industrial technology companies. She has produced a unique 3D scan of the Chinese Pavilion in Stockholm and performed a broad study with sinologists and curators at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, which has lent Bonniers Konsthall one object from its collection.

Lap-See Lam, The Chinese Pavilion / research material (still), 2021. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Nordenhake Stockholm/Berlin/Mexico City.

In her new work Dreamers’ Quay (2022), visitors accompany the teenager A’Yan through a time portal. A large-scale shadow play takes us from the 1970s Chinese restaurant back to the 18th century and an era characterised by Chinoiserie and the early relations between Canton and Sweden. The shadow play is Lam’s take on an ancient form of visual storytelling, to which she has added new technology such as advanced projection mapping on a surface that creates an optical illusion. Lam is fascinated by the shadow play and its history; how it came to Europe from China in the mid-18th century with returning merchants, as its French name, ombres chinoises (Chinese shadows) indicates.

This work is the final piece in a trilogy that includes Phantom Banquet (2019–2021) and Mother’s Tongue (in collaboration with Wingyee Wu, 2018). All three parts relate to and are set in and around the Chinese restaurant, in an exploration of historical notions of China. In Phantom Banquet, visitors are placed at a set banquet table, with a decorative blossoming cherry tree, where they experience digitally manipulated visualisations of Chinese restaurants and a narrative about imagined and metaphorical spaces through a VR headset.

These works are based on an ongoing project in which Lap-See Lam is performing a 3D documentation of famous typical Chinese restaurants in Sweden before they close or are sold and remodelled. The project began when Lam’s parents sold their restaurant Bamboo Garden in Stockholm. Her desire to preserve her memories of the restaurant interior, coupled with a curiosity to learn 3D scanning sparked a process that eventually developed into an artistic practice focusing largely on exploring the image of China in Swedish cultural history. 3D scanning technology is far from perfect, but the flaws and defects leave room for Lam to move the settings beyond time and space, into another dimension.

Lap-See Lam, Dreamers’ Quay (Singing Chef Suits), 2022. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Nordenhake Stockholm/Berlin/Mexico City.

The dragon ship Floating Restaurant Sea Palace is also featured in the exhibition. Built in Shanghai according to imperial drawings, it docked in Sweden in 1991. After fruitless attempts to use it as a floating Chinese restaurant, the vessel was left at Dreamers’ Quay in Gothenburg. Today, it serves as a haunted house at the Gröna Lund amusement park, where it is described as “A ship from the Orient with an ancient curse”. The exhibition also features a new series of works, Dreamers’ Quay (Singing Chef Suits), consisting of paper costumes that Lam has folded by hand, inspired by traditional Chinese paper folding technic and votive gifts in Joss paper, and a selection of earlier works, such as the neon sculpture Phantom Banquet Ghost (2019).

BIOGRAFI

Lap-See Lam (b. 1990, Stockholm) holds an MFA from the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. She was awarded the prestigious Dagens Nyheter Culture Prize in 2021. In 2020, Forbes included her in their 30 under 30 list of young visionaries in European art and culture. In 2021, she was nominated for the international Future Generation Art Prize. She has participated in numerous national and international exhibitions, including the Luleå biennial (2018), Performa 19, New York (2019) and Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris (2019). Moderna Museet in Stockholm has works by Lam in its collection.

First image, photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger


COLLABORATORS 

Original music, sound design and spatialisation: Marlena Salonen, Linus Hillborg
Dramaturgy: Axel Winqvist
Voice actors: Ping-Kwan Lam, Chen-Pong Lam, Vanessa Tang
The Singing Chef: Ping-Kwan Lam
VFX consultant: Martin Christensen
Projection mapping: Tom Waldton
Graphic design: Thomas Bush
Production of sculptures: Fredrik Eriksson, Linda Ottosson, Dennis Härmä, Kornskarpt, Myra Design

Special thanks: Johan Wang, Helena Chreisti, Lap-Yan Lam, Yuk-Lin Lam, Pico Interactive, Stena Metall, Nordic Brass Gusum