Permanent Temporary Happiness Forever

Permanent Temporary Happiness Forever is an on-going project inspired by the eviction and demolishing of my grandfather’s 40-year-old restaurant in Washington, D.C.  In my possession now are over 1,000 displaced artifacts which once created the crowd-pleasing but not entirely authentic narrative of a Chinese restaurant. 

For one exhibition, I stripped away the decorative, festive elements of an antique chandelier and vibrating kittens and painted them ivory, the color of mourning in Chinese culture. These were displayed with lights and continuous movement, as though they were ghosts stuck between the living and the dead, refusing to move on. By transforming and exhibiting these kitsch objects – a neon duck sign, vibrating kittens and more - I am navigating personal loss as well as examining what happens when cultures have to package themselves in order to be accepted and consumed by the American mainstream.

In the photos, Look No More, I visited the building one last time just before it was demolished. The restaurant was locked and the keys had been changed, but in the moments between the construction crews moving through the street, I was able to take a series of photos from the outside.

In a companion audio series, I make phone calls to the shopping complex which now lives on the site where the restaurant and 23 other businesses once stood.  No matter who or what business answers the phone, I attempt to order Chinese take-out.  -Christy Chan


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Permanent Temporary Happiness Forever