5 Questions With Kara Chin on the Eve of Her Solo Show ‘Concerned Dogs’ at Goldsmiths CCA

Kara Chin, Inaugurare, 2023, animation still. Courtesy the artist and Vitrine, London.

London – Kara Chin is a British-Singaporean artist working across animation, ceramics, sculpture, and installation. Her work is concerned with “transhumanist ideologies, biohacking, and ecological disaster, and how these exacerbate a haunting of the present by the future.” 

She explores chaos with provocative humour that penetrates an idle consciousness through her comfort with the bizarre. She seamlessly manipulates a grand range of material, including audio-visual media, organic and syntenic matter, and animatronics. 

She spoke with Elephant writer Saam Niami over Zoom on the eve of her latest solo show Concerned Dogs at Goldsmiths CCA. 

So can you tell me your full name, and can you spell it for me, please? 

Oh my god, you picked the hardest question. My full name is Kara Katherine Ellen Cuiwei Chin. But my sister has always told me off because I have a Chinese name that I can’t pronounce. And every time I try to say it, I say it in the most stupid voice, which I mean, sort of like I’m being racist to myself. 

I do that to my brother. And when I hear his friends pronounce his name the way they do, I’m like, “You are disrespecting our ancestors. This is not good. This is bad vibes. I actually don’t really need you to, it’s more of a warm up question, but can you spell it for me? 

Not the whole thing?! 

The whole thing. 

Ok ok. K-A-R-A K-A-T-H-A-R-I-N-E E-L-L-E-N C-U-I-W-E-I C-H-I-N. 


Was that correct? 

Yes! And can you tell me your social security and your mother’s maiden name? Just kidding. How old are you? 

Oh my God… I’m 28? I think. 

Did it change recently? Why was it hard to remember? 

My birthdays are at the end of the year. And every year, I go, “Oh my god, next year I’m going to be this much older. But I think two years ahead. 

Installation view of Kara Chin, Concerned Dogs. Goldsmiths CCA, 2023. Photo: Rob Harris.

That makes sense. That is confusing.

So I think next year I’m 30, which means that this year I’m 29, which means that I’m 28. That is confusing! I was confused for a moment. 


Okay, where are you from? 

So I was born in Singapore, but I moved to the UK when I was two and grew up in Chester. So, I guess I’m from Chester and Singapore. It’s one of those tricky ones. 

And what is your occupation? 

… I’m an artist… 

Don’t be so embarrassed about it! 

I’m an artist! I’m an artist. It is funny when you say it, though, because the follow-up question is, “No, but like, what do you do for money?” 

I’m not going to ask you that. You can be a nepo baby, and I wouldn’t know. I’m going to just assume that you are. So that’s what I’m going to write. 

I mean, for the purpose of this interview, I’m definitely an artist, surely. Surely!

And what is your history with art? 

God, what’s my history with art? I just live and breathe. I just came straight out of the womb with a paintbrush in my hand, straight in with the canvas, and I have just been making art my entire life. Can’t live with it. Can’t live without it—No, I should try and come up with something actually serious. 

That’s a very tricky question. I just, I’ve always loved art, and I’ve always loved drawing. It’s not a great reflection of my own character, but I was always the best at drawing in school. And I loved that validation. So I was just like, “Well, I must do art forever!” But I think that that way of thinking about art is just so wrong. So I did have to go to uni and relearn all of that. But I just love making stuff! I love putting piles of objects together. I like making food look pretty. I know that, obviously, art’s not about making things look pretty, but I do enjoy that. 


Kara Chin, Awakening Ceremony, 2021, animation still. Courtesy of the artist.


If you could choose one of your pieces from your latest exhibition and in your entire collection to come alive and live with you, which ones would they be? 

Oh my God. Well, I’ve just made an animation of Tom Cruise. So, you know, that would be quite funny, but I don’t know if I’d want it to live with me. I’ll have Tom Cruise. I’ve made Space Cruise, so I’ll have him.

And of all of them ever, God. Oh, I did an animation of loads of domestic cleaning robots. So I’ll have them. That would really change my life. 

If you could live inside any of your pieces, which one would it be? 

Oh, my goodness. I’ve made lots of weird hybrid creature things. I’ve made all of these little models of cinema seats. And there are Pringles tubes on the floor. And one of them has a seat that’s covered in little vapes. So I’ll pick that one. 

If you could be buried with one of your pieces, which would it be? 

I’ve got that mental block where I’ve forgotten everything that I’ve ever made. Did I ever make anything useful? 

You’re dead in this situation. You’re not alive. 

Okay. I’ve made lots of works that have tombs and shit. Oh my God, I’ve literally made works that are tombs. I made a piece called “Toaster Tomb,” which is a tomb for a toaster. And it was on legs and was supposed to walk around. So, I pick that because then I get to live on in a big parade-y tomb. 

It’s a tomb within a tomb. 


Kara Chin, Toaster Tomb, 2019. Installation view of Sentient Home Devices, Gallery North, Newcastle, 2019. Photo: Jason Revell.


If you died and had one chance to leave behind a work, but it’s 10 times larger than it is now and no one would know where it came from, which would it be and where would you put it? 

I’ve just made an animation of these Roman lucky charms that I found, which were basically like wind chimes. They look like wind chimes, but they are actually people with giant phalluses. And I was being like, so ironic and clever. And I think that seeing that appear in the sky would be quite fun. 

Which sky? Where would it be above? 

Let’s say above the Queen’s house. Oh shit, not the Queen anymore. Oh my God.

The King! I even knew that, and I’m not even from here. 

I’m living in the past. 

You miss the Queen. 

I just miss her so much. I miss Liz. Where is she? She’s not really dead.

If you could pick a piece for her to be buried with, which one would it be? 

So the big phallus rocket appears in the sky, and I choose the location as Buckingham Palace, and I choose the day as the day after the Queen dies. 

And she’s in it? 

And she’s in it. That’s her tomb. 

No more questions. This has been perfect. 

That’s so nice; I’m so pleased. You’re just saying that! 

No, no, no. I mean it. I think you should take this up with the royal family. I think they would reconsider. I think this could be a big business opportunity for you. And when it goes well, I want you to remember me. 

I’ll inscribe your name somewhere. 

Words by Saam Niami