Caithlin Courtney Chong

Interview moderated by Shaquille Shaniqua Joy

Who are you and what do you love most about what you do? 

I’m Caithlin Courtney Chong, and I’m a multidisciplinary visual artist. What I like most about what I do is the storytelling aspect that I can bring to my work. Working from this perspective I get to imagine different worlds in which my work can belong.

Which role does sustainability play within your work/practice? 

I don’t really have a stable income, which is why I get most of my materials through recycling or from second hand-stores. It is also about recreating something that already exists and the transformation that comes with it.

The new exhibition at Fashion for Good is called Knowing Cotton Otherwise. Can you tell us more about your contribution to this exhibition and what your process was like? 

Most of my work that is being exhibited right now was already made before I got invited to exhibit in the museum. This is why the process was more about being invited to work with recycrom, which is an Italian dye company that uses clothes to make a new dye from scraps. It was really fun experimenting with this in contrast to working with natural indigo dye, to see what effect processed dye has on cotton in comparison to natural dye.

What do you hope for people to take away after seeing your work in the museum? 

I want people to take the story of these three adventuring sisters with them as well as the reality of how leaving your home and life, in general, can change in an instant. Another thing I want people to take away is the feeling and idea to immerse themselves in a magical world.

The exhibition Knowing Cotton Otherwise is based on collectivity and community. Why is a community-driven mindset that strives for collectivity important to you? 

Because it makes our storytelling stronger. We have similar stories, coming from different perspectives and this gives our voices a better chance of being heard. It also brings us together to create these narratives with each other.

You created an immersive installation that is a continuation of your already existing work Children of Iguarán, which is also a book. Could you share more about the story behind it? 

I started out wanting to write a performance. Based on this performance I started to write the first chapter after playing dungeons and dragons for the first time. I began to think about Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings and how the characters would go on these grand adventures. Then I went to research if the Caribbean had any of these fantasy adventures, which I couldn’t find and decided that I wanted to create one myself. These three siblings are the descendants of a deity who is the child of the mother of all creation. I was trying to infuse the story with Greek and Yoruba mythology as well as Indigenous culture but also the colonial history of the Caribbean.

Conversation for Good