How Artist Carla Chan Brought The Golden Hour From The Swiss Alps To Art Basel Hong Kong
“A lot of people think of artists leading these crazy lives, but art can be a very lonely job,” says Hong Kong born, Berlin-based digital artist Carla Chan. “It’s something that comes from within you. Nobody can really teach you how to be an artist.”
It’s perhaps unsurprising that Chan’s creative endeavours led her to an isolated corner of the Swiss Alps, where she took up an artist residency with La Prairie at the Monte Rosa Hut, an ultramodern base typically used by hikers and mountaineers overlooking the Matterhorn.
Chan’s time at the Monte Rosa Hut culminated in the creation of Space Between the Light Glows, an immersive installation inspired by the golden hour. The piece debuted at Art Basel Hong Kong, marking the La Prairie’s first partnership with a Hong Kong artist.
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Chan’s experience served to give her a fresh perspective. “I’m not actually a nature lover. I am the opposite,” she says, recalling a reluctance to spend time outdoors in Hong Kong in her youth. “I don’t like it, but I want to know it in a distant way.”
The first few days at the residency were occupied by logistics and planning, she says. “Our first golden hour there was a bit more practical; we were with the crew chasing the light and planning which locations to shoot from. But from the moment we saw how the sun fell, everyone stopped what they were doing and stared,” she says. “I almost felt like I was inside my own rendering; it was surreal. I had a real intimacy with the landscape.”
Chan sought to capture the sheer scale of the mountainous landscape using her drone, though the filming process wasn’t without its setbacks. She recalls breaking her equipment early in the residency, her disappointment still audible. However, in true dedication to the pursuit of perfection, the brand had someone drive six hours across an international border and hike for nine—all unbeknownst to Chan—for the drone to arrive at the breakfast table the next day.
The resulting video installation is an immersive, graphic interpretation of a seemingly never-ending landscape. Cloaked in the colours of the golden hour, it’s deliberately hard to pinpoint where the time-based video starts and ends.
Space Between the Light Glows was commissioned by La Prairie in celebration of the launch of its new Pure Gold skincare collection, a luxurious range designed to leave skin nourished and glowing. The Pure Gold collection is also the brand’s first to be sold in refillable packaging, marking its commitment to the environment. That is a central theme to Chan’s work as well. She says: “I don’t want to just say ‘protect the glaciers’. I want you to feel that bitterness and feel a little bit sad, because that’s the moment that you care. That’s why I tried to incorporate a lot of fading in and disappearing of the landscape into my work; it’s disappearing in light but also in time.”
Chan also created a second installation, inspired by the fleeting final moment of golden hour light. Space Between the Light Fades is exclusively displayed at La Prairie House at H Queens.
Space Between the Light Glows is a subtle experience, best enjoyed in person, explains Chan. “I would like people to spend the time to really take it in, to feel the light, the movement and the pace of the experience.” The moment when peoples’ minds begin to wander as they become lost in the experience, Chan says, is when the work comes to life. “That’s the best moment,” says Chan, “when you’re daydreaming”.
Learn more about La Prairie's Pure Gold skincare collection here