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Kien Situ


January 19 - March 1, 2024

108 million years ago a comet collided with the surface of the Moon, resulting in the formation of a prominent crater located in the southern lunar highlands, notably named Umbilicus Lunaris (The Navel of the Moon). For Kien Situ, the concepts of formation and change are prime motifs embedded in his practice, and he emphasises that the physics that define change are critical to the nature of it. Speed, force, distance, time and in this case; rupture. This mass geological separation between the moon and the earth that allow these celestial bodies to be connected by the seeable yet invisible glue of all relationships – space, or its absence.


For Lunar New Year, Situ leverages Lunar Geographic Information System (GIS) data and architectural modelling systems to conjure this section of the moon; taking form as a monumental singular slab, hand-forged from Chinese Mo Ink and Gypsum Plaster. This particulate matter, seemingly unbounded yet with intrinsic form, assimilates itself to the strict shape and dimensions of the room. Creating an interior environment referencing an exterior world, Situ has created a bridge between the terrestrial and astral. Echoing this formation is the title of the exhibition, TECTONIC, which draws from Situ’s architectural background; a term referring to how matter converges; or, how it is willfully separated.


TECTONIC connects two forces, ink and Gypsym plaster, to create a colossal peak where geology, time and identity are all interwoven. The Chinese character for the word ‘Ink’(墨) is composed of two other characters - ‘black’ (黑) and ‘earth’ (土), a nod to the geological origins of the material. Ink is the prime material for Shanshui paintings (mountain-water paintings) and similarly creates the foundation of calligraphy. Both examples hold ink as something which holds great power, the ability to transmit thought across space and
expanses of time. Much like many Chinese words, 墨 is also an ideogram, an image that can communicate both thought and feeling.


Interrogating distance, time, separation and connection, Situ posits the moon in the role of the “other”, suspended in the sky as a dissident or exile. The moon is separated from earth in a similar way to the existing complexities and perspectives of diasporic communities living away from their homelands. Like an estranged child from its mother, the moon assumes the role of the “other”, however, it’s the moon’s distance that endows it with a piercing perspective, offering an unfiltered view of Earth’s realities as it continues to influence and command its tidal and geological movement from afar. TECTONIC materialises a lunar fragment to remind us that what separates is at once what connects us.

Images photographed by Document Photography

About The Artist

Kien Situ (b. 1990, Australia) is a multidisciplinary Asian-Australian artist.
He works across architecture, sculpture, film and installation. His practice deals with ruin, distance and time; and it exists to challenge, deconstruct and meditate on notions of space, heritage and identity as the ‘other’ in society.
Reflecting on his Sinospheric background (Chinese/Vietnamese diaspora), he is exploring the position of Asian-Australian and immigrant identity in Australia. Situ creates architectural encounters and atmospheres that are reflective of this contemporary state of tension and emerging hybridity.
The use of Chinese Mò ink is foundational to Situ’s practice and it is often meshed with industrial and architectural materials. Its historical and personal significance shapes his investigation of the interrelationships between geography, identity, distance and time. Like his lived experience; ink is displaced, de-contextualised and given new expression in contemporary society.
He has received a Bachelor of Architecture (UNSW, 2016) and is receiving his Masters of Architecture (University of Sydney, 2023). In 2022, he was a finalist for the Wyndham Art Prize. He has had solo exhibitions in public and educational institutions such as 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and The University of Sydney. He has also exhibited at Sydney Contemporary 2022 and other international Art Fairs. Situ is represented by Yavuz Gallery, Sydney.

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