Lap-See Lam
Tales of the Altersea (Prologue)


Gallery Openings—15 Sep 2023, 6 to 9 PM
Artist Talk—15 Sep 2023, 6:30 PM

Tales of the Altersea (Prologue) marks Lap-See Lam’s second solo exhibition at Galerie Nordenhake and her first in Berlin. The artist invites into a prologue of the narrative Tales of the Altersea previously presented at the Portikus, Frankfurt and the Swiss Institute, New York. As a literary feature, this enables a new introduction to the works on show in Berlin, created in the past four years including the programmatic VR installation Phantom Banquet.

Lap-See Lam explores questions of interpretation, representation and identification in her practice working both with contemporary technology as well as traditional references and techniques. On one hand, the notion of glitches informs the artist’s visual language, referencing a ‘generation loss’ both in a literal data transfer and an idiomatic inheritance of knowledge throughout family generations. On the other, symbolic features from traditional forms of storytelling such as shadow plays, to the décor of Western Chinese restaurants become an allegory for the experience of the Cantonese diaspora. The artist’s biography weaves various features into her storytelling since her parents had to sell their restaurant in 2014, a family business founded by her grandmother at the end of the 1970s after her emigration from Hong Kong to Sweden. Lap-See Lam delves into almost magical imaginations of Chinoiserie, defined by imperialist trading, while reflecting on the reality of migration to both claim ownership of and complicate the idea of cultural heritage – a duality that characterises the artist’s mythical installations.

As a second-generation immigrant, Lam is well-aware of how the diasporic imagination affects cultural memory, sometimes reshaping ideas of tradition and home. ‘We write the narratives of things we might not fully comprehend,’ she says. In her work, we feel her desire to fill in those gaps. She is a connector of distanced histories, linking Chinese restaurants and chinoiserie and ombres chinoises (shadow puppetry) to wrestle with hard truths around imitation and interpretation, facsimile, and cosplay. ‘It’s almost like I’m time traveling through my material,’ she says. ‘It brought me to Gothenburg, the city where the East India Company and early trade relations with Canton started, and now I’m under the sea and expanding into a longer history.’

Claire Voon, Cultured Magazine, May 31, 2023

Lap-See Lam, Tales of the Altersea (Portal), 2023, Copyright the Artist, Courtesy the Artist and Galerie Nordenhake Berlin/Stockholm/Mexico City, Photo: Gerhard Kassner

Lap-See Lam was born in Stockholm in 1990, where she lives and works. The artist has been invited to create the idea and framework for a Gesamtkunstwerk at the Nordic Countries Pavilion for the 60th Venice Biennial, opening in 2024. Working alongside her are the artist Kholod Hawash from Finland and the composer Tze Yeung Ho from Norway. She has an upcoming solo exhibition at Buffalo AKG Art Museum, Buffalo NY. Her work is currently showing at the Swiss Institute, New York City. Recent solo exhibitions include Portikus, Frankfurt am Main, and Lidköping Konsthall, Sweden (both 2023); Bonniers Konsthall (2022); Trondheim Kunstmuseum (2021); Moderna Museet Malmö (2018–2019); and Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm (2022, 2018). She has taken part in group exhibitions at venues including Ghost 2565, Bangkok (2022); KINDL – Centre for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2022); Power Station of Art, Shanghai (2021); PinchukArtCentre (2021); Uppsala Konstmuseum (2020); Performa 19 in New York (2019); Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris (2019); Luleå Biennial (2018); Kópavogur Art Museum, Kópavogur (2018); and Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (2017). Lam was the winner of Dagens Nyheter Culture Prize in 2021 and a recipient of the Maria Bonnier Dahlin Foundation Grant in 2017. In 2021 she was shortlisted for the Future Generation Art Prize.