In the heart of Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown, a new art installation Beyond The Moonlit Door celebrates the Mid-Autumn Festival with a glowing transformation of the laneway in the Kwai Chai Hong area.
After the Chinese New Year tiger and paper cut installation by Alice Chang and Odd early this year, this new installation pays homage to old world Chinese heritage, taking inspiration from elements from the Mid-Autumn Festival, including the use of paper lanterns, Oriental doors and windows.
Beyond The Moonlit Door features an experiential piece titled Endless Frames by architectural designer and artist Pamela Tan (of Poh Sin Studio), which greets visitors at the main entrance.
Hundreds of intricate laser-cut acrylic sheets hung at different lengths create an illusion of a cavern-like portal, bringing to mind time travel and multiple dimensions, set against the backdrop of traditional Chinese wooden doors and windows.
A sense of calm
"This piece is designed to 'float' mid-air to capture delicate rays of light and gradient of colours through the sheets as one walks beneath the installation. The installation and foliage sway in harmony as wind flows through, casting shadow movements onto surrounding surfaces. The interaction of the light rays, the bridge, bamboo trees, and foliage comes alive in unison to create a sense of calm," says Tan.
Kwai Chai Hong will be open to the public daily from 9am to midnight, which means visitors can choose to visit this installation during the day or at night – or both – as you will get a different viewing experience depending on the time of day.
"During the day, sunlight filters through the layers of blue, pink and yellow translucent sheets which emits subtle hues of colour onto the surrounding. When night falls, as light refracts onto the installation, it glows like floating lanterns above the bridge. The whole space is illuminated with vivid gradient colours through its sheets, creating a romantic ambiance," explains Tan.
The vibrant Moonlit Doors work complements this installation, a merging of traditional oriental doors with colours derived from paper lanterns.
"Mid-Autumn lanterns are known for their rich and vibrant colours. We are thrilled to introduce a new twist where each set of oriental doors are presented in contrasting colours that pop between the frame and the door," says Zeen Chang, managing partner of Bai Chuan Management.
"Traditionally, the Mid Autumn festival is celebrated while adoring the full moon. We have always imagined what it was like in ancient times, looking out our windows to a majestic moon.
"Through this installation, we get to showcase a giant brightly lit full moon that lights up the laneway and its colourful doors, creating a picturesque atmosphere. These doors symbolise the many opportunities and hope life has to offer and those who take action will reap its benefits," she adds.
Project Kwai Chai Hong is Bai Chuan Management’s first project which features the restoration of the facade of 10 heritage shop houses and rejuvenation of the laneway in between Lorong Panggung and Jalan Petaling.
"As we continue to share elements of Chinese culture with everyone, we have come to realise its weight and importance to the public community. With this in mind, we do our best to push boundaries each time, communicating through art and most of all, staying true to our cultural roots, presented in a fresh perspective," says Chang.
Engaging with an artwork
Tan, who holds a masters in architecture from the University of Greenwich in Britain, is no stranger when it comes to blurring the boundaries of art, architecture and design.She was also the winner of the fifth and final cycle of the Tan Sri Chan Sau Lai Architecture Award in 2016.
Two of her projects, Eden and Projection Kite, won the bronze and merit awards respectively in the Design for Asia Award 2020 under the category of Environmental Design and, in 2021, Eden won best of the best for German Design Council-Iconic Award.Her new installation in Chinatown is easily her most mainstream creation to date.
She adds that in her journey as an architectural designer and artist, she values experiences that allows her to take part in the community."This is essentially about sharing responsibility. I am grateful to collaborate with the team behind Kwai Chai Hong who has made such an impact on the local community since its launch.
"While technology advancements are great, the flip side is that life tends to move so fast, that memories are something we can only grasp. Kwai Chai Hong freezes time for us to appreciate the past and welcome the future. With that, I wanted my artwork to interact with the surroundings while engaging visitors for a captivating experience celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival," concludes Tan.
The Beyond The Moonlit Door installation will be on public display until Oct 2.