A relatively new technology allows the carbon for the ash after we are cremated (after we are dead) to be turned into a synthetic diamond. I was asked to participate in a project run by DESIS lab in Hong Kong to pick up the process where ideas were needed for what to do with the diamonds. Their research looks to break taboos surrounding dying and death. Up to this point their research has focussed on interviews, workshops and now this exhibition at K11 gallery.
The project started for me being given 3 stories which are different scenarios about family circumstance, death and wishes. Whilst these scenarios were very specific, I tried to find a commonality in each (apart from the death part). I really liked this way of working.
I responded with three objects which ‘support’ the diamond. My starting point was that I wanted to move away from the fact that for thousands of years people have worn jewels as decoration. I thought that jewellery was too obvious and an arbitrary default answer. DESIS research also suggested that whilst people liked the idea of being made into a diamond after death (as it’s such a permanent and beautiful thing) they also said they might not want to touch the diamond of a dead loved one, but they would like to look at it.
Object 1. The light. This form takes the shape of a candle which emits one candela of light, which refracts through the diamond filling the room with a low light which which is just enough to see and contemplate, but not enough to work by or do any other activity.
Object 2. The clock. This object is a death day clock which counts forwards in days, months and years from the moment of death. This is to aid the bereavement process to a point where exact time no longer matters and the cube serves merely as a display for the diamond.
Object 3. The spirit. This object holds 3 diamonds as the deceased wanted each of his sisters to have one diamond. The deceased was born in the year of the rabbit and this figurative container holds his diamonds within.
One of the highlights of the project was the trip to Mr Mok’s social housing flat to do the photo shoot. He is a remarkable man and has live in the tiny 25m2 flat for over 40 years, and has helped DESIS with many projects, so a big thank you to him.