Ashe / 2018
Exhibited at the National Art School 2019 BFA show.
Portrait Study I, 2018, digital video, 0:56 loop
Ashe, 2018, digital video, 3:36 loop
Rally Loop, 2018 0:56 loop Walking Loop, 2018, 0:45 loop
This video series gave me a way to explore my own personal history, by way of this American figure - tennis champion Arthur Ashe (1943-1993) - who quietly fought for racial equality in a Southern city through his sporting achievements. He was a local hero, who I very much idolised (despite not being American) growing up in Richmond, Virginia - a place that was deeply marked by its Confederate history. Then across the world, in my South Indian grandparents’ quiet life in Kuala Lumpur, my grandfather was always found watching tennis on TV - always enamoured by Ashe.
So Arthur Ashe became an unlikely pairing between the two very different parts of my upbringing.
This project started as an attempt to recreate a now lost place — my grandparents’ home in Kuala Lumpur — through my distant memories and select photographs. For the first video in the series, Ashe, I sourced the same model of CRT TV that my grandparents had.
Prioritising the ‘photographic’ in a video format instead of narrative, the videos Ashe, Untitled (Ashe Rally Loop), and Untitled (Ashe Walking Loop), are constructed to play as moments suspended in time. The first two are infinite rallies where there are no completed points or re-serves involving Ashe and his opponents. The third one, Untitled (Ashe Walking Loop), shows Ashe seated for a moment, walking to the right, curving around to the left, and ending up seated. These three videos are stitched together from hundreds of clips taken from hours of archive footage.
The fourth part of this video installation, Ashe Portrait Study I, is a four-minute video constructed from the individual frames of a downloaded eight-second clip. Here Ashe is listening, considering, and laughing to a question posed in an interview. I separated the single frames and animated them by blending them together. In this way, the work is stretched to 30 times the original length. This video, seeming almost like a still due to its incredibly slowed speed, acts as a portrait, giving this otherwise dormant footage a new perspective.