Art History Research Lecture: Dr Vivian K Sheng Fiona Tan: Inhabiting the World as a 'Professional Foreigner'
Join the St Andrews Centre for Contemporary Art and the School of Art History for a Research lecture by Dr Vivian K Sheng of the University of Hong Kong entitled Fiona Tan: inhabiting the world as a ‘professional foreigner'.
This talk discusses a set of lens-based installation works by Indonesian-born Australian-raised Dutch artist Fiona Tan, which not only foster generative dialogues with the artist's experiences of transnational migration and cross-cultural engagement, but also probe into the unprecedentedly movable and uprooting status of human life in a globalising world.
Tan considers herself a ‘professional foreigner' devoid of an unambiguous origin, which enables her to investigate multiple places and cultures via situated observations and actual experiences unburdened by prior knowledge of local norms and conventions. With her works, Tan brings to the fore a way of perceiving and apprehending people's identities and histories built not upon preconceived sociocultural and geopolitical narratives, but rather on embodied encounters and identifications with their quotidian activities ‘at home'.
The talk examines in what ways Tan's works implicate viewers in dynamic and affective material environments of migratory inhabitation that requires continuous reworking and reconfiguration of the relations between private and public, self and other, past and present, and local and foreign, as well as virtual and real; how Tan's artistic practice of ‘homemaking' articulates an ethical position of being a professional foreigner permanently ‘in exile', disrupting any consistent and coherent conception of provenance in terms of when and where people or things originally come from; and in what ways Tan, in her works, renders identity and home relational and transformative, constituted and reconstituted through relations of power and mutuality, providing a distinctive insight into the complex entanglement of personal memories, social histories and cultural belonging.
Image Credit: Fiona Tan, Vox Populi, London, 2012. The Photographers Gallery, London