In Conversation with visual anthropology artists
The documentary Sing Me L’ Internationale (2019) by Ching Wong delves into a Malaysian-Chinese man’s harrowing past using the narrative of his wife, his sister-in-law and Ching herself as the granddaughter. A root-searching journey reveals not an intimate family portrait but also the insurmountable force that twisted the destiny of the vulnerables, woman in political struggles and diaspora. Through the failure of tracing individual and collective history, the documentary subtly discloses the trauma that lies in the construction of the feminine, and the tyranny of hegemonic social and cultural unspeakable female roles in politics.
WE ARE ALL IN THE BUSINESS OF FIGHTING FOR AIR
27 – 28 September 2019
Chisenhale Studios, 64 – 84 Chisenhale Road, Bow, London E3 5QZ
Developed from Johanna Hedva’s Sick Woman Theory, We are all in the Business of Fighting for Air* explores the binary between public and private, functioning and invisible existing in the status quo through screenings, workshops and interactive performance as well as self-initiated reading groups. Using Chisenhale Studios as a safe space, it generates solidarity among marginalised communities which are either ignored, silenced, or neglected within the binary of public/private due to their physical or mental illness, diasporic identities and misogyny of patriarchal capitalism. It speaks of intersectional experience of the institutional violence discipline, indoctrination and punishment meted out to correct behavior and emotional outbursts. This programme aims to form an anti-discipline subaltern community that is collectively exploring alternative means existing outside the current apparatus.
*Title borrowed from Martin O’Brien’s essay in Survival of the Sickest (2018)
This programme is part of collaboration between the Art Department of Goldsmiths, University of London and Chisenhale Studios.
Daniel Seo, Letter (2019), performance
The artist produces letters which consist of a short essay regarding personal matters during the course of the opening reception. The context behind it is to present a fear of his that stems from his dyslexia: the vulnerability he perceives when writing and reading in public. Over time, he has found ways to avoid this anxiety for fear of being mocked or denigrated. A personal aim of this piece is to slowly overcome his anxiety by being comfortable with failure and to utilise it to grow. During the performance, Seo will produce letters with unintentional errors due to his disability. As he depicts subjective matter in the public space, the performance portrays the effect disabilities and illnesses have when communicating with the rest of the world. It constitutes a movement to uplift the doubly marginalised groups such as the sick and the diaspora.
Daniel Seo, Connection (2019), mixed-media installation
This work is co-created with Julie Laffin, an artist based in the United States. Laffin suffers from environmental illness, also known as chemical sensitivity, which is a condition characterised by an acute intolerance to low levels of chemicals, molds, and other substances. Exposure to extremely low levels of an offending substance can cause a wide variety of symptoms, ranging in severity from mild to completely debilitating. Due to the illness, Julie needs to stay in her home. In the video, two artists are playing chess separated by a window with Julie inside the house and Seo outside. Their handwriting is the only way to communicate with each other during the game.
Art Therapy Workshop led by Nicole Lai and Yen Hsing Lim who graduated with MA in art psychotherapy from Goldsmiths, University of London. Participants can make use of different visual art forms like painting, drawing, craft, sculpture, needlework or even clay modelling to explore the relationships between art and the expression of feelings, making art approachable as well as using it as an alternative way of mental healing. It aims to provide an opportunity for participants to express themselves artistically and understand the emotions associated with them under the facilitation of art therapists, who hold a supportive environment for emotions to be acknowledged and shared. One of the therapeutic aspects of art therapy is participants can have their own pace and authority to decide how much of their personal matters and how deep they would like to disclose according to their needs. In times when feelings have no words to express, art can be an alternative option. Therefore, the workshop is a chance to experience the power of visual communication without the pressure of producing perfect pieces of art.