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Curating Contemporary Art (MA)

Lanzehang (Lan) Ying


Evolving from Chisenhale Gallery’s brief and our initial proposal to broaden notions of motherhood, our project delves into the dynamics of unconventional kinship in contemporary society. Titled Un/tied, our project strives to communicate the multitude of forms of kinship that extend beyond traditional biological frameworks. In Un/tied, we aim to reflect upon and recognise interweaving and diverse forms of kinship that are not necessarily limited to hereditary ties. Our approach involves a collective search for new possibilities and emergent structures.

Designed as an intimate reading room, complete with a curated library, the display is crafted to foster dialogue and interrogate how contemporary kinship is imagined, created and sustained. The library showcases relevant works that analyse concepts of kinship and study its manifestation in material, human and non-human, and temporal contexts. These texts are presented alongside portraits and films, which consider alternative and queer forms of kinship. Sculptures by artist Clementine Edwards invite viewers to think about material kinship beyond the nuclear family.

Our programmed live element focuses specifically upon kinship within the trans community. Featuring artist Donna Marcus Duke with collaborators Biogal, Amani and Jetsün Shenkyong-ma, the event incorporates elements of lecturing and cabaret. Radical, political, and spiritual expressions of trans kinship are explored through a series of readings and performances. The event aims to nurture a sense of community while simultaneously challenging established norms and navigating societal challenges and prejudices.

Image credit: Me and My Dad Will Build a Whole Kingdom of Stuff I Find on This Playground by Tomorrow Morning (detail) Clementine Edwards, 2023. Photo: Simon Vogel

A photo of Lan in Cardi Gallery

Lanzehang (Lan) Ying is an independent curator and the co-founder of TRA Collective. Central to her curatorial interests is the capacity of exhibitions to serve as a conduit for the creation of experiences. She places particular emphasis on the dynamic nature of audience engagement and reimagines exhibitions as sites for rituals. Before attending the RCA, she studied Psychology and History of Art at Vanderbilt University in the United States.

In her graduate dissertation, Exhibition and Liminality: Ritual as a Curatorial Methodology, she probes the question: how do we curate a ritual experience? Leveraging Arnold van Gennep's concept of the rites of passage, which underscores the fundamental significance of transitional processes within societies, she delves into the integration of his identified three stages - separation, transition rites, and rites of incorporation - into the framework of an exhibition.

Instead of being restricted by religious implications, she views rituals in a broader context, suggesting they are a common practice present in every culture. Her study sheds light on the critical role of ritualistic experiences in reviving both individual and collective consciousness. She believes that this revival is particularly relevant in our contemporary society, where capitalist ideals and the hyperconnectivity borne out of digital communication prevail.

For her graduate project, Lan co-curated the public display and live element of Un/tied, a project that investigates the complexity of unconventional kinship in contemporary society. The project seeks to acknowledge diverse forms of kinship beyond hereditary ties, promoting a collective exploration of new possibilities and emerging structures.