In Conversation : JJ Chan & Yuen Fong Ling

Chan, JJ [Speaker] and Ling, Yuen Fong [Speaker] (2021) In Conversation : JJ Chan & Yuen Fong Ling. In: What do we know (anyway)?; 16 Jul 2021, Sheffield (held online). (Blueprints for the Otherwise)


JJ Chan and Yuen Fong Ling reflect on their practices and what it means to struggle against racist structures as artists. Hosted by Bloc Projects, this conversation between JJ Chan and Yuen Fong Ling took place during a week-long public programme called ‘What do we know (anyway)?’. In March 2020, JJ wrote an open letter to the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) that outlines their experiences working with the institution. Having sensitively invited the centre to respond to the systemic racism they encountered there, CFCCA convened the Artist Working Group (AWG). Yuen was part of AWG, whose task was to help the institution 'revision' itself. The centre, however, withdrew after a number of months, citing their own ‘white fragility' as the reason. The seven artists have issued a full report of their work with CFCCA and are leading a petition to ‘defund’ the institution on the grounds that it is ‘not fit for purpose’. As these recent events reverberate in the air, JJ Chan and Yuen Fong Ling spoke to each other about the difficulties of making work, the problem of 'diversity' tick boxing and strategies to challenge bad institutional practices. Reflecting on the performance, facilitation and soft activism that underscore the work and lives of both artists, they asked: who are the main actors in the stories that shape our lives and our societies, and who has been omitted and forgotten? Does our artistic labour play a part in the selective imagining of wider society because of the ways in which it is presented or curated? How, then, do our practices have agency in the current moment?

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