A London of fast-blinking lights and speeding commuters, where cars and trains leave luminous comet-trails marking their passage through the night, and where individuals reflect on freedom in the urban metropolis, or seek escape from the repetitive habits and conditions it enforces. Inspired by ideas of freedom of expression in contemporary society, Suki Chan’s video installation is an impressionistic study of London’s diverse population. Chan contrasts the movements of people on their way to and from work with their individual efforts to enjoy free time – exploring how we create our own personal and psychological space outside the architectural restrictions and behavioural patterns imposed by life in the city.
Chan’s work weaves together a series of evocative video portraits highlighting people’s different responses to the hubbub of London life. Groups of skaters, unimpeded by traffic, move freely through the twilight city, tracing their own intuitive map of the metropolis. Nigerian security guards gatekeeping a deserted high-rise office block compare the ‘freedom’ of London with the rhythms and aspirations of their former life, while city commuters embody the mundane, monotonous regularity of our everyday urban existence. First shown, to great atmospheric effect, in an outdoor, rooftop setting at A Foundation in London, Sleep Walk, Sleep Talk was subsequently presented in a more conventional twin-screen configuration.
A Foundation, London: 10–12 September 2009
198 Contemporary Art and Learning, London: 14 September – 19 October 2009
Concrete and Glass 2010, London: 13–27 May 2010
New Art Exchange, Nottingham: 23 July – 4 September 2010
Commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella and presented in collaboration with A Foundation and 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning and funded, as part of Free to Air, by London Councils.
Sleep Walk, Sleep Talk was presented at Canary Wharf Screen as part of ‘The City in the City’ programme between 1 March and 27 May 2012.