Chloe Abrahams (b. 1994) is a British Sri Lankan filmmaker and artist based between London and New York. She was a recipient of the John Brabourne Award in 2020 and has twice been shortlisted for the Bloomberg New Contemporaries (2018, 2019). She is currently working on her first feature documentary, It Didn’t Start With You, which explores the lasting impact of a shared trauma running through three generations of her family.
At the age of 19, Chloe had her first solo exhibition at OVADA Oxford, and has since shown work in London, Paris and Kyoto. In 2020 she produced Alice Aedy's short documentary Somalinimo (funded by Doc Society, acquired by The Guardian), and Harry Hitchens’ short documentary Don’t Think Twice.
After graduating from her BA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins she became the Marketing Coordinator for documentary distributor Dogwoof, and worked on the UK Theatrical campaigns for Apollo 11, Free Solo, Minding the Gap, among many others.
Chloe currently programs for Cheap Cuts, the UK’s only short documentary festival, and is undertaking a Master’s in Moving Image at the Royal College of Art.
I am constantly inspired by the stories unfolding around me, whether it be the awkward dance of two passersby attempting to move past one another, a car struggling to climb to the top of a street covered in snow, or snippets of overheard conversations on public transport. Through text or video I frequently record what some may consider mundane events in an attempt to capture a moment of each day.
Recording has become a little obsession of mine. I have gathered thousands of notes on my phone over the past few years. I collect them as a way to cling onto them. Perhaps it is connected with my curiosity about – and fear of – memory.
I am curious about the ways that memories transform through transmission. Every time we tell and retell a story it shifts and moulds depending on the circumstance. If we recount a particular memory numerous times, do we remember the original event or is it a reinvention or recreation that we recall through our retellings? Or is it like when we open a jpeg and an identical image gets recreated?
I’m fearful of losing memories, fearful of misremembering, fearful of remembering something that might be better forgotten. After recent personal experiences, I’ve been drawn to trying to understand traumatic memory in particular. What happens when we can’t remember? Or when we don’t want to remember? How can I recreate that same feeling of confusion and doubt in a viewer of my work?
Using methods from both documentary and fiction filmmaking, I investigate these questions through the use of material gathered from everyday life.
The two video works presented below, although entirely different in their final outcomes, were both born from my interest in the everyday and use material recorded from real life. One has gone through many processes: a voice note transcribed into a script, performed by an actor, performed again, and a third time. The other was left almost entirely untouched.
If you have any questions about my work, please do not hesitate to drop me an email.
Work pictured: Mama (2018)
This work contains language and information that some viewers may find upsetting.
For the best viewing experience, please watch with headphones.
And then it got a bit weird is a verbatim documentary performance depicting an account of an incident. An exploration into the effect of traumatic memory.