Art Review: Sleep Walk, Sleep Talk @ A Foundation

By Hazel Last edited 110 months ago
Art Review: Sleep Walk, Sleep Talk @ A Foundation


Hong Kong-born artist Suki Chan has created a deeply evocative and meditative outdoor video installation and Sleep Walk, Sleep Talk has more power than it initially seems.

On the flat roof of A Foundation, we can't help but feel isolated. Screened only after dark, iIt's dark, chilly and unseated - just concrete roof, two enormous high quality screens and many silent, silhouette figures, all watching the moving images intently, each person alone and locked in their own world. The audience listens through wireless headphones and this outdoor screening is eerie, lonely, the audience unable to chat, jostle and mingle. We are locked into images of London at night, sleepy people yawning and shuffling across the screen, the soundtrack and narration stifling any other distraction. This subtle, curious work necessarily requires an isolated approach and participation is like a silent tube carriage, each man an island while standing shoulder to shoulder.

The beautifully shot footage is sometimes from a car, a tube train or a lift with the city shrinking but always moving. A tube driver describes his work in the dark tunnels, a security guard meditates on his tiny windowless booth, a man ponders the loss of community. Suddenly, a group of smiling, happy people in an organised evening skating party zoom across and there's the flipside: we can be a community, but not everyone wants to be part of one. That's why they people come to London - to be anonymous or be part of something, as we choose.

And that choice is reflected in seeing Sleep Walk, Sleep Talk: to go to a gallery to stand completely alone in a crowd, all participating in the same thing but without acknowledging each other. The curious customs of London are captured with nuance and poignancy in this installation.

Sleep Walk, Sleep Talk at A Foundation until Saturday 12 September, then at 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning until 19 October. For more information, go to the Film and Video Umbrella website.

Last Updated 11 September 2009