Images: Stills from “Lotus Root”
About the Artist
Sian Fan is an interdisciplinary artist working in London. Her work combines movement, the female body and technology to explore embodiment, spirituality and human experience in the digital age. Drawing on her background in contemporary and aerial dance she suspends, fragments and augments the body via choreography and digital techniques. She works across mediums, combining the physical and the virtual through sculpture, performance, animation, moving image and virtual and augmented reality.
Coming from a mixed background (Chinese and British) her work meditates on her own fragmented sense of identity, exploring what it means to exist in an in-between state. Via her work she delves into her complicated connections with her own heritage, reflecting on Asian diaspora, Imposter syndrome and mixed identities. She seeks to explore, expose, and expand these thresholds of human identity where one exists as both and neither at the same time.
By extension she is fascinated by virtual identities, and in how we construct virtual bodies which exist in hyperspace beyond our physical bodies. She is concerned with the complexities of spiritual experience and with being human in our increasingly digitised and hyperconnected world. Through her work she hopes to discover new ways for us to coexist with technology.
FACT launches summer exhibition My Garden, My Sanctuary: a collection of new, immersive artworks by Yaloo and Sian Fan – two artists using creative technology to tell stories of ancestry and self-discovery in a hyperconnected world.
Presented by FACT’s 2022 Curator-in-Residence, Carrie Chan, My Garden, My Sanctuary will immerse visitors in playful, watery worlds. From anime and K-pop, to lotus flowers and seaweed, artists Yaloo (South Korea) and Sian Fan (UK) weave commodified symbols of East-Asia throughout their work to reclaim their cultural identities, and remix their coming-of-age stories. The new commissions will transform the galleries, taking shape as large-scale animated installations and interactive gaming environments.
Combining ancient Korean traditions and beliefs with family histories, Yaloo presents a mystical installation environment. Birthday Garden (2022) begins with a temple-like gateway, leading visitors into an underwater seaweed garden and giant, animated sheet mask. Through an enlightening and reflective experience, the works explore the challenge of shaping self-identity and cultural stories against the commercial context of Korean culture within global media.
As part of FACT’s work around how young people craft and embody digital identities, Yaloo expands on the themes in her work to include young people’s views and critique of popular culture and social media. A series of conversations with members from the University of Liverpool’s K-pop Society, and a group of young people from Liverpool, will result in a K-pop inspired dance, public performance and a podcast documenting their creative process.
Sian Fan combines imagery found in anime and fantasy video games with commercialised depictions of East-Asia. In her new commission Lotus Root (2022), Sian uses motion capture technology to record her movements, inspired by the characters from anime series Sailor Moon and video games Final Fantasy and Grandia. Surrounded by a sanctuary of lotus flowers and lily pads, the hyperreal avatars glitch in and out as they respond to audience interaction. The immersive installation challenges romanticised ideas of East-Asian culture and standards of femininity found in gaming and animation.
Established in 2019, FACT’s annual residency programme invites UK-based curators to develop their ideas and research into a major exhibition and public programme of events. Carrie Chan, 2022 Curator-in-Residence at FACT, said: “The exhibition has been curated to feel like a rite of passage: a journey where visitors encounter two artists whose works reflect on their own identities and cultural heritage within a technology-driven, alternative world. My residency at FACT has enabled me to explore diverse curatorial approaches in narrating stories on ancestry, identities and belonging, and has given me the opportunity to bring two acclaimed digital media artists to Liverpool – a city with a strong history of Asian immigrants and diaspora.”
My Garden, My Sanctuary forms part of Radical Ancestry, FACT’s current year-long programme. Maitreyi Maheshwari, Head of Programme at FACT, said: “From ‘alternative museums’ of artworks that question how science and technology have shaped our understanding of the past, to the ways in which the stories and songs we inherit help define key moments in our lives, the Radical Ancestry programme is an exploration of our changing sense of self. This exhibition continues our journey from the past into a present in which the artists playfully remix symbols from their familial heritage with pop cultural references, creating new possibilities and hybrid identities. Later this year, the programme will conclude with an exhibition that proposes alternative archives and worlds in which these new identities can exist. Carrie has introduced us to ambitious new artists whose outlooks and practices convey the energy and the difficulties in trying to forge a new way of being.”
My Garden, My Sanctuary will be on display at FACT from 21 July until 9 October, 2022 and will be accompanied by a public programme of family friendly events including food-based workshops, curator tours, a talk exploring stereotypes and representation in gaming, and artist performances.
My Garden, My Sanctuary
21 July – 9 October 2022
FACT, 88 Wood Street, Liverpool, L1 4DQ
ABOUT CARRIE CHAN
Carrie Chan is a curator, lecturer and researcher specialising in digital culture and crossmedia storytelling. She is a Senior Lecturer at Ravensbourne University in London. From 2015 to 2018, She was the inaugural curator of Design Society – a major cultural institution in Shenzhen co-founded by China Merchants Group and Victoria and Albert Museum. She curated the opening exhibition Minding the Digital (2017) and co-curated another major show Craft: The Reset (2018). Carrie also oversaw the commission of public art installations at the institution. In 2018, she was awarded the Design Trust / Royal College of Art Fellowship in Design Curation, during which she investigated the Internet’s impact on fashion images and identity formation. Prior to her curatorial and teaching career, she was a features writer for South China Morning Post.
FACT is the UK’s leading film and media arts centre, bringing people, art and technology together. Based in Liverpool, FACT’s award-winning building houses three galleries, the Picturehouse cinema, a bar and cafe. Now celebrating 19 years in its Liverpool home, FACT has welcomed over 5 million visitors and commissioned and presented over 350 new media and digital artworks from artists including Pipilotti Rist, Nam June Paik, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Wu Tsang, Ryoichi Kurokawa, Agnes Varda and Isaac Julien. fact.co.uk