Allison Chhorn, 'Skin Shade Night Day' (2022), installation documentation.


Allison Chhorn

Allison Chhorn, 'Skin Shade Night Day' (2022), installation documentation. 1.30 minutes. Courtesy the artist. Videography by Ben Golotta.

About the work

Skin Shade Night Day is the first major solo exhibition by Allison Chhorn which explores the daily routine and rituals practised by the artist’s Cambodian-Australian family. Reperformed and documented through a process of embodied empathy, acts of service, such as gardening and cooking, play out as echoes from the past across a sound and image installation displayed in a shade house. Spectres, shadows and aural textures conjure up impressions of a place that remembers how its inhabitants once lived.

As the daughter and granddaughter of Cambodian migrants, Chhorn’s work explores the personal and familial ricochets of the Khmer Rouge – a brutal political regime, from 1975-79, that claimed the lives of nearly two million Cambodians. Chhorn’s films obliquely approach the echoing traumas, memories, beliefs and behaviours of her family, particularly set against the Australian context.

Informed by a trip that Chhorn and her mother undertook in 2021, where they visited a family friend’s property in Darwin, the shade house captured Chhorn’s imagination and sense of responsibility to provide security for her parents, particularly as a daughter of migrant refugees. Upon her return, Chhorn sought a piece of land for her father to build a real shade house, which she then replicated and rebuilt as a multi-screen, immersive cinematic installation.

ACE tampinthi, ngadlu Kaurna yartangka panpapanpalyarninthi (inparrinthi). Kaurna miyurna yaitya mathanya Wama Tarntanyaku. Parnaku yailtya, parnaku tapa purruna, parnaku yarta ngadlu tampnthi. Yalaka Kaurna miyurna itu yailtya, tapa purruna, yarta kuma puru martinthi, puru warri-apinthi, puru tangka martulayinthi.

ACE respectfully acknowledges the traditional Country of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains and pays respect to Elders past and present. We recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. We acknowledge that they are of continuing importance to the Kaurna people living today.