memory chest


by Yehui Zhao

Project Description

Memory chest juxtaposes stories from three generations of women. It recollects and reconstructs a past that centers on womanhood and daughtership while exploring how personal truth connects to history. The artist used visuals that have a connection with the past in revealing the narratives, such as drawings, cyanotype, stop motion animation and archives. Memory chest explores themes such as hunger, poverty, colonization, revolution, gender and family relations through personal storytelling and nonlinear recollections.


Yehui Zhao (she, her, they) is a multidisciplinary artist in filmmaking, painting and animation. Her work explores womanhood, identity diaspora and feminist experiences through a juxtaposition of archives, cyanotype, drawings, live action and typography. She is currently working on a hybrid documentary about womanhood, memory and non-recorded history. She has made short documentaries for a People’s Forum event, Decolonizing Wealth, and a Community Board 12 meeting with local residents.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Tara Kesavan

    I love the way you have digitally transformed this project. To me, it seemed to be so anchored in the physical experience of holding the chest and being close to it that I was curious to see how it would translate as a virtual experience. I think the illustration style, the use of techniques like cyanotypes, the colors and font really help the digital experience feel more tactile and create that intimate atmosphere the original project intended.

    I also think you’ve thought up a really effective mode of telling a personal history. The box gives the viewer the feeling of being privy to something precious and private. And your voice-over relays the personal stories of you and the women in your family in a way that really drives home the feeling of telling a larger history through personal recollections. The photographic material you chose really situated me in a time and place and the additional layers like the cyanotypes added a texture and mood to those images.

    A small suggestion I had was to increase the size of the window that displays the images and videos. Perhaps in the physical iteration of the project, the small size would work. But in this version, I felt that I wanted to be able to see those better and bigger.

    I think the interactive element really works well with the kind of work you do and I hope to see more work like this from you. 🙂

  2. I like the idea of taking home the box so as to experience it within an environment of your own choosing. That alone makes it intimate and more personal. In turn, people would perhaps be more willing to engage with the objects and the stories. The cyanotype strikes me as particularly fitting for this type of presentation in that it is created slowly. It has an etherial quality that reflects the ideas of past memories, objects and stories. To interact with the physical version of this I’m sure would be pretty satisfying. Everyone can relate to the idea of objects from the past and understanding that they mean something to us today.

    a minor point – I’m not certain how the display of the cyanotypes in the physical version would rotate depending on the object (or would they?). Since we created a digital and actual version I couldn’t help but think that you could merge the two by installing a small screen in the lid of the box. This may not be in line with your aesthetic but the possibilities it would present might inspire more ideas.
    From what I have seen of your work there is a look that is accessible and inviting. This project certainly takes advantage of this aesthetic quite successfully.

  3. Mark Araujo

    Awesome project and awesome video! I really love how the video feels like a memory, it’s there, it’s present, but yet, it’s a little hazy, a little far away. I am excited to see the physical manifestation for the whole effect but you did a great job at bringing it to the digital realm. Thank you for sharing such a personal story, it’s a courageous act to dig into yourself and make honest art. I’m excited for what’s to come.

  4. Beautiful project. I love the idea of opening a memory box and discover things about you. Well done! I wish I could see it in person.

  5. Lior Mamon

    Really beautiful meditation of memory.. Just finished watching “Sans Soleil”, and your work really reminds me of it. I love the idea of a virtual safe of memories, a place where they can’t be lost and can be retrieved at any time. Your video work, music, and narration blended beautifully together and really transferred the concept and essence of your project. I love that painting technique, I think it is such an interesting method to speak about painting, photography, and memory. Very exciting!

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