Unheard Until Marriage 2011
I was once told a daughter is a visitor in an Asian family home, one day she be married and gone to a new life, she will no longer hold the family name. The installation was commissioned by the Art Council of England with the aim to create paintings that would stand independently from the wall, standing in a gallery where one could walk around it and absorb the atmosphere of the internal emotions and energy of the theme.
The installation was created with 6ft canvases, joining together with piano hinges, then painted in oil, the marks made while painting demonstrate the journeys of those who have experienced tensions of changes that are about to happen when getting married in an Asian family dynamic.
Initially I created the installation in 3 tall boxes, with canvases around them, brass poles holding it all together, and one with wedding veils – to describe the process of an Asian wedding from Mendi, Nikha (marriage) and Walima. But I noticed during the exhibitions the public could not engage with those, they walked around it, they could sense something but not quiet as deep as I could.
In the next exhibition I decide to re-construct the installation bringing back the canvases from ‘Room Full of Memories’ 2004 (commissioned by the Art Council of England) and combined with the ‘Unheard Until Marriage’ 2010 resulting a larger installation, with the floor covered in red, internal space with coloured lights with wedding veils covering over like a personal cave that you can enter into.
The canvases on the back were painted too, you can see those inside the cave, with marks, hands prints, words smeared over it. The emotions, of a marriage-taking place with uncertainties. The couple have not really dated, met only a few times through families over a cup of tea or a meal, never really had the personal space to have a deep conversation or lived together.
There are many feelings going through their minds, it is more fearful for a women, who will be leaving her family for good, may change her name, her lifestyle will change, her way of living has to adapt with a new family, whom she may call ‘home’. She will be sharing her space with a man, who she may have met through family formalities, unsure what will happen in the relationship, if the will feel the joy of love and the excitement of the new emotions, they be wondering if these will develop in the relationship or will it become like a culturally norm kind of relationship that we see in the Asian communities. You can walk into the installation and enjoy the colours and glitter of a colourful marriage but these are contained in a container with anxieties and fears perhaps even excitement of the new image created through the ideal marriage of one’s dreams. For many in the Western world we can walk away but there are many who are not able to do this and would live to keep the family name sane from shame.