The Ancestral Home

Jeff Chiu

October 28, 2017 – March 4, 2018

House, The Ancestral Home, Jeff Chiu, 2017
The Lights, The Ancestral Home, Jeff Chiu, 2017
Bridges, The Ancestral Home, Jeff Chiu, 2017
The Atom and the World, Jeff Chiu, 2017
Shredding, Jeff Chiu, 2017
Television, Jeff Chiu, 2017
Mandarins, Jeff Chiu, 2017
Sweeping the Tombs (mountians are gravesites), Jeff Chiu, 2017

I left Boston with my grandfather’s string bound memoir and a suitcase of his personal photo albums. Like many, our interactions were stifled by a lack of knowledge of a common language and culture. To me, his memoir, written in a foreign language, was an illegible block of information, whereas his photo albums were a point of access. The photographs were an opportunity to create new constellations of meaning. In a flash, the photograph would capture a window of light resembling familiar faces and places. Treating the photographic archive as a site for archaeology, new constellations of meaning can be realized by a process of selection and synthesis. In selecting and tracing these ‘windows of light’ into shapes and associations, they seem to resonate into something mystical or mythological. If the photographic archive is a fragmented cast of history, the new images are the distorted molds…

All the knowledge we have of our cosmological origin is distilled from the debris of the birth of our universe: the remnant traces of light and the continuous expansion of the universe. The observable universe is a spherical region that dictates the absolute farthest light we can observe and measure; anything beyond the edge of this region is unknowable and any theories outlining a contour of what may be there are merely speculative. Numerous fields of science examine the precipitate of our planet and the universe to understand what happened before human memory in order to predict an image of what tomorrow might behold…


Perhaps misunderstanding may be taken as strategy rather than error to create a place for new constellations of meaning to form. After all, each successive understanding of something is laced with the memories, religion, culture, environment, education, patience…economic status, language, ancestral history, upbringing, humor… and morals of an individual. In the spherical region of one’s memory and knowledge one reconstructs something anew for the present at its edge.