New Zealand visual artist who works in a range of different mediums: drawing, video, sculpture,
philosophical poetry, photography, and art publications. Her work is often conceptually driven with attention to formal details. Her practice involves research, experimentation and play.
She from April to June residence in TCG Nordica and do research and practice in here.
TCG Nordica: You have been living in New Zealand to Kunming for two months now. Can you talk about how it feels to live here?
Lauren Redican : Kunming has been a really interesting city to get to know. It has a great vibe – a strange mix of being quite laid back and relaxed, while also somehow chaotic and spontaneous. Every day has been an adventure!
TCG Nordica: And what about the Kunming art scene?
Lauren Redican : Although I’m beginning to understand aspects of the art scene here, I am still very much like a guest. Two months is such a short time really.
The art scene here is rather dispersed, and faceted. The painting scene is dominant – a primary medium within tertiary art-education here. Traditional practices like calligraphy, woodblock printing and ceramics also play a prominent role. I’ve experienced a small yet impassioned performance art scene during my months here (although this type of creative practice isn’t supported/taught by formal institutions and universities, artists such as He Libin and Luo Fei have worked over the years to develop and cultivate this kind of work amongst younger artists).
TCG Nordica: In New Zealand, aside from doing art you also have a formal job. How do you balance art and paying the bills?
Lauren Redican: It’s always a juggling act! Since finishing my MFA, I’ve tried to only work part time – primarily working for a residency programme run by Massey University (Te Whare Hēra Wellington International Artist Residency), but also teaching. I make sure to have time each week for concentrating on my own creative practice, either producing new work or writing out proposals and applications.
TCG Nordica: Nowadays, artist in residence programmes are popular all over the world. What do you think the significance of this is?
Lauren Redican : There are different reasons that contribute to a need to uproot yourself from your normal environment; education, experimentation, developing new relationships. Sometimes seeking to be challenged, sometimes to challenge, to get lost, to experiment, to fail.
I think the best programmes are those that allow for enough time to understand and connect, to get inspired and to change one’s mind.
There are certainly different ways to approach being an artist in residence, different positions you can take. At the beginning of a residency, there is always the question “what is the role of the artist?” and “what strategy should be employed?”
In my experience, undertaking a residency always brings about certain kinds of thoughts. You’re a guest, first and foremost – and this is often something that has to be carefully negotiated. A residency is a crossing of thresholds both physically and also mentally. I find myself thinking about language, mobility, temporary homes (hotels, motels), the dynamics of guest and host relationships, the 30 or so kilograms of luggage you’re able to bring with you: a finite number of pants, shoes, shirts, hats.
Sometimes it’s hard to overlook these conditions. It often becomes part of the work in itself.
TCG Nordica: What is the most attractive thing for you about Kunming?
Lauren Redican: One of best things has been meeting some really interesting people; from around China, as well as places like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Bangladesh, USA.
TCG Nordica: Please talk about the works and ideas you’ve made in Kunming.
Lauren Redican: My time in Kunming is the initial stage of a larger 7-month project based in China. After Kunming I will travel to Beijing, and then Chongqing. I’ll have a solo exhibition at Organhaus gallery in October.
I wanted to use my time here in Kunming to absorb and learn a bit about my new context. I’ve read a lot, and made a lot of drawings, photographs and writings. Most recently have been working with a Chinese ceramicist in a nearby suburb.
My time here in Kunming came with no expectation to produce a set body of work, and I’m really lucky to be able to have used this time to explore in an organic way. This flexibility, or “a time without quality”, has allowed me time to immerse myself in research and explore new practices.
Many people don’t speak English in Kunming, so from the get-go it became evident that language would be an important aspect of my experience – not only in my everyday life, but also in my work. I actually came to China with a pretty solid idea about what I wanted to do with my time here, but within the first few weeks I realised how much ideas around language and communication (and miscommunication) were having an impact my work and thinking.
I’ve dedicated a lot of time to learning Chinese, which has allowed me to speak to a range of different people within the city. This has been one of the hardest yet also the most rewarding aspects of the past months. Life has become so strangely poetic! It’s been extremely difficult yet interesting having such a limited range of communicative capabilities. For instance, when you know the word for ‘bowl’ but not ‘bucket’ – you just have to make do.
Every day I’ve been writing a text-piece in Chinese, and this routine is a really interesting process – trying to express myself with such a limited set of possibilities. I’m often trying to say something specific, and going about it in a really roundabout way, or find myself mid-sentence changing tactics altogether.
One of my favourite writers Avital Ronell, writes about the body in pain. She says that when the body is working well, and functioning properly, it is kind of rendered invisible. You aren’t really aware that you have a body until it’s not functioning properly.. then it’s like – oh I’m so aware of having a body right now.
I’ve thought about this a lot. And I think that this is really relevant in relation to language. You become so aware of language (spoken or written and also – body language) when you can’t understand it.
Lauren Redican, Work in progress,lines from people I meet,Kunming,2017
Lauren edican, Visitor work in progress, Kunming, 2017
Lauren Redican, Work in progress, Daily texts 18, Kunming
Lauren Redican, Work in progress, Daily texts 9, Kunming