Makeshift Home


Makeshift Home is intended to provoke people to think about the domestic spaces in which we live, the makeshift homes — the dwellings, the belongings and the space dividers. I’m using bed sheets to set up the installation, mimicking the drying of bed sheets and blankets in outdoor public space. The old bed sheets here are from my parents that they have kept for decades. They are worn down after many washes and much sunlight drying them. My mother picked these cloths at a fabric store and sewed them herself to turn them into bed sheets. The blue shirt is the uniform of the shop where my father was working until he retired. They are now hanging inside the gallery by the window. Letting the sunlight shine through them again. Behind the bed sheets is an audio device that plays the sounds of domestic household labor, the work that I do at home.

I have definitely spent more time at home since the start of the pandemic, which has been a year now. For people living in cities, it’s not that usual to have to spend that much time at home. People in urban environments are used to going out, to parties, museums, gallery openings, dining out, walking around in the street. Now most activities are done at home. But domestic life is often not talked about; it gets undervalued. And when it is talked about, it is sometimes dismissed as just something trivial. The amount of time I spend on a daily routine on preparing food, taking care of the plants, doing laundry, sweeping and vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom, is to maintain the home as a place that I want to return to, in which to feel safe and find comfort. I want to capture the sounds of domestic life that I have spent so much time with yet at the same time seem so insignificant to anyone but myself.

With all of this, I want to question about the idea of home and the specific Chinese term for happiness —  幸福 “hangfuk" — the happiness comes from being together and being loved. What’s the home we are trying to build and maintain? What will you sacrifice? How’s the ongoing repetition? Does it bore you?

Supporting Article:
Makeshift Home
SUNY Purchase MFA Thesis 2021 May
- by Crystal Wai Man Chan

Richard and Dolly Maass Gallery, NY
April 2021

© 2023 crystal w. m. chan