Get your cameras out for some illuminating shadows at Kwai Chai Hong

Illuminating Shadows sees the team behind Kwai Chai Hong, Bai Chuan Management, collaborating with local artist Alice Chang on an avant-garde installation using metal wire frames and holographic acrylic film.

Photos by SAM THAM
Text by ANN MARIE CHANDY

Shadows and light playfully intersect each other at Kwai Chai Hong in KL’s Chinatown. You’ve probably been to the quaint lane before, and have happily taken a snapshot or two alongside the mini murals on the walls of the old shophouse lots which have been rejuvenated into trendy bars and restaurants.

Since last week, a brand new installation has taken pride of place in the enchanting laneway. Illuminating Shadows, which made its debut on Oct 28, sees the team behind Kwai Chai Hong, Bai Chuan Management, collaborating with local artist Alice Chang of Lai Lai Art Studio on an avant-garde installation using metal wire frames and holographic acrylic film.

Alice and the Giant Rabbit.

As with most of her other art, Alice derived inspiration for this piece from what was happening around her. “I wanted to show that even though events may cast a shadow sometimes, there is still beauty all around us. Shadows don’t have to be viewed negatively,” said Alice. 

The artist’s installation features a Giant Rabbit sculpture which appears to be bounding into the lane, and three Chaser Rabbits ( a reference to the Jade Rabbit and Running Horse lantern initially created in conjunction with the Mid-Autumn Festival) which floats above.

The Giant Rabbit measures 8ft x 5ft and needed thousands of pieces of film, each of which was painstakingly cut by hand and tied on to the wire structure. “It took me a long time to finish!” Alice said. 

Last September, the KCH team presented Hops & Dreams featuring eight different artists and their interpretations of the Jade Rabbit. Alice was one of the featured artists then too. She has other works currently on display here including the permanent The Lady porcelain mosaic sculpture which welcomes everyone at the entrance of KCH (as well as a couple of charming chooks on one of inner walls opposite the back entrance of the Dabao restobar). 

Also on display at KCH now is Vivid Streams, an extraordinary take on the “twists and turns” in life. Using the same holographic material that was used for the bunnies, these tapering pieces of film come alive in different ways as day turns to dusk, capturing light and twirling in the wind. 

Zeen Chang, managing partner of Bai Chuan Management, shared that when her team first started brainstorming this concept, they wanted to stay faithful to sticking to elements of Chinese culture and tradition. She said: “We also wanted to create something that was relevant to Malaysians during these difficult times and remind ourselves that everything can be beautiful if we choose to see the beauty.”

Zeen said that the cage-like structure of the Giant Rabbit installation symbolises the rules and SOPs that we as a society have had to adhere to in the last year, as well as the unwavering respect we have for all frontliners.

“Thanks to their resilience, brighter days are ahead. We wish to spread more positive vibes through this art installation and show everyone that there is hope as things begin to return to normal.”

Illuminating Shadows is now open to the public at Kwai Chai Hong, in between Lorong Panggung and Jalan Petaling, daily from 9am to 10pm, until Dec 5. Strict SOPs will be observed. For updates, visit the KCH Facebook or Instagram page.

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