Night image of apartments

Chris Chong Chan Fui
Malaysian, b. Borneo, 1982
35mm film transferred to video; color; sound; 20:44 min.
Museum Purchase, 2010 (10.2)

In BLOCK B, Chris Chong Chan Fui films the exterior of an imposing high-rise apartment building in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in a single continuous shot. His footage captures the routines of its residents, many of them Indian expatriates residing in the country under precarious employment conditions. As the distant, silhouetted figures move past the building’s windows and around its balconies, we hear scraps of conversation and follow a series of small dramas: children set off fireworks, a teenage couple embraces, and laundry falls from one apartment to another. As it becomes increasingly unclear whether the dialogue is overheard or scripted, the film complicates the boundary between documentary and fiction. Chong’s absorbing vignettes demonstrate the abundant dramatic potential of everyday life.