Chuyia Chia. Installation view



5 June – 26 september 2021


Chuyia Chia’s exhibition Man and Land has four interlinked parts: The Garden, The Leek Warriors, The Laboratory and The Participatory: Nostalgia. Together they form a narrative about humans complicated relationship with the land. It is a relationship of domination, transformation, destruction and utmost dependency at the same time.

For Chuyia Chia the process of cultivation has become a ritual where she has fostered a sense of awareness of the cycles of nature. According to her, it is only through direct seeding and growing that one can understand the deep interconnection of all the elements needed—in perfect balance—for the growth of food: time, temperature, wind, sunlight, water and healthy soil. We eat what we grow and we are what we eat, so it is also through this process that one understands what she professes: That“to protect the land, the soil, is to protect the body”.

In Havremagasinet’s 4th floor, Chuyia Chia has planted a garden of wheat grass in a man made structure resembling a labyrinth. In the middle of the garden hangs a tapestry made of grass, whose roots take the shape of the sign for agriculture in the ancient Chinese language. These more than 3000-year old signs point at the long history of humanity growing food. The plants of the tapestry take the shape of the letter C, signifying copyright, through which Chia addressed the issue of genetically modified foods, or GMOs, a central predicament of modern agriculture. The Laboratory section unfolds this thematic further and makes us aware of the importance of knowing where our food comes from, how it is processed and how do we impact the environment when we grow it, as much as how do we impact our own bodies when we consume it.

The Leek Warriors is a series of dresses knitted, sewn, woven, or crocheted with pretreated leak leaves. Each one of the dresses is specially confectioned for a warrior that has the task to protect or perhaps master–a particular environment from the arctic to the tropical rainforest. The dresses combine organic matter and human labor in a delicate balance that resembles humans’ relation with the soil and the land.

Although much of Chuyia Chia´s work in the exhibition involves organic materials, human presence is consistently accentuated in her work, the human impulse to intervene and affect nature. In the large installation The Participatory: Nostalgia, she invites us to leave our reflections about time and existence on stones. Only through the marks left in stones from different geological eras is it possible to follow the changes in our planet. We are now into a new geological era, the Anthropocene, a time in Earth´s history in which human activity is impacting and drastically changing our planet´s climate, ecosystems and living beings.

About the artist

Chuyia Chia, born in Malaysia, moved to Singapore in the late 1990s to study art and is now based in Gothenburg. Her artistic training is originally painting, but her main artistic practice is now within the realm of performance and installation art. In both mediums she explores her interest in working with time, a time that is not bound to the clock, but to distinct processes that can record or express it, like weaving or growing a garden. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions and performance festivals around the world. Her latest solo exhibition was in early 2021 at Skövde Art Museum where a version of Man and Land was exhibited.

Man and Land, 2020 Produced in collaboration with Skövde Art Museum