Quote from Sites of Construction catalogue


"Passing is a 3 screen sound and video work, funded by the Arts Council of England. It concentrates on the representation of cultures, the construction of rigid boundaries and fixed categories. In particular, the focus is on the definition and construction, "Chinese", its historical transformation and the role of the media in perpetrating these boundaries. Process and form are as important to me as subject matter, and as such, this piece is also an exploration of non-linear, non-narrative forms of construction and how this results or does not result in meaning. It is a piece that looks at and is critical of mainstream media mechanisms, as much and it is an exploration of alternative uses of electronic imaging.

The work in this exhibition endeavours to take some of these ideas further. The representational imagery (in Passing) has been stripped away, leaving bare sites of construction, where relations of power and inequality transform and invest the arbitrary with undue and repressive signification. I explore the iconography of the grid, where the grid has been used as a tool for representation, comparison, measurement and mapping. It is an 'ideal' structure projected onto reality, obscuring existing complexities and defining meaning only on its terms."

(At the end of the catalogue text I felt the need to write an extra paragraph about my role as an artist. It very much relates to the idea that as an artist of Chinese descent making work around issues of cultural difference, representation, identity etc ones voice can often become mistaken as the voice of a community, as representative of a collective homogenous group of people or as an authoritative or authentic voice, one that comes from the inside or is nearer to the truth. )


"Although my work often uses the notion "Chinese" as a focus, it is not my intention to 'introduce' or 'explain' a culture, ethnicity or nation. Neither am I trying to re-present an image that can be confidently consumed as authentic and representational, which too often gives rise to a legitimised voyeurism. Through a refusal to accept an explicative or totalizing role, and via the suspension of meaning and resistance to closure, I hope to question, explore and problematise representation itself, not provide new or more 'correct' classificatory systems. "

© Erika Tan 2020