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Curating Contemporary Art (MA)

Roger Wenxuan Qian


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


Roger Qian is an independent curator and photographer based in London and Wuhan. His practice is characterized by a focus on the individual situation inside the fluctuating collective consciousness within the temporal themes of the times, and a strong obsession with capturing moments of reconciliation between the rationalities and the absurdities. His curatorial interest is focused on the formation and expansion of non-space in contemporary art. Prior to studying at the RCA, he studied photography at the London College of Communication.

His ongoing dissertation focuses on the dilemma of the proliferation, tightening censorship and transformation of Chinese photography festivals, as with the lagging exhibition strategies. He attempts to dismantle the urgencies from multiple perspectives and to reach the innate character of the medium by tracing back to its roots, attempting to propose a remedial approach centered on the reconfiguration the power structure that consists of institutions, artists, works, and audience experiences.

His graduation project was a collaborative project with six group members to co-curate Un/Tied, which consisted of a public display and a live element. The project dives into the multifacetedness of unconventional kinship in contemporary social structures and aims to facilitate investigation on neoforms of kinship beyond genetic ties.