[Site-specific Installation] Wu Pei Chi, Mrs. Khu (2019)
Wu Pei Chi, Mrs. Khu (2019), Film Still.
Mrs. Khu (2019) is an immersive video installation by Taiwanese artist Wu Pei Chi who looks into the tradition of ghost marriage that once happened in her family while rethinking the system of patriarchy embedded in the custom.
She captures scenes of her grandparents’ house where her family celebrates important festivals and worships ancestors. The film’s audio is comprised of ambient noise surrounding the house and the conversations between her mother and uncles. The topics were mostly about Mrs. Khu, who is a deceased woman married to her grandfather, as an intangible existence in her family. While eavesdropping on these daily life conversations in her family, Wu finds a strong connection with her ‘ghost’ grandma and starts to questions the issues around gender inequality in traditional customs in Taiwanese folk culture.
Wu’s work also evokes discussion around human imagination of death. While people always wonder what the deceased like Mrs. Khu would be doing if they were alive, Wu does not see them as ghosts, but as those who continue living with her, only in another dimension. She believes that spirits are not attaching to places but to people or the living. By capturing the ancestral house, ambient noises and intimate conversations of her family, Wu skillfully incorporates the concept of ‘yin’ and ‘yang’, which represents female and male, the underworld and the world of the living, in ancient Chinese philosophy into her film. In doing so she creates a liminal world that exists simultaneously between reality and imagination when the audience experiences her work.
In the exhibition By the time we are gone (28 - 30 June 2019), Wu rendered her grandfather’s story of an uncanny ghost marriage beautifully and poetically. She created a sculpture by using an empty pomegranate with all the seeds scooped up to embody Mrs. Khu. Together with the film that was projected in a small, immersive environment with red lighting and a stick of incense burning, the work conveys the intimacy of the experience for Wu and of the relationship to family.
Wu Pei Chi, Mrs. Khu (2019), Safehouse 1 in Peckham, London,