Rites of passage define key moments as we drift from one stage in life to the next. Our identities glitch and flow as the influences of media, culture and technology collide with our ancestry. In My Garden, My Sanctuary artists Sian Fan (UK) and Yaloo (South Korea) submerge us in watery worlds from which they reclaim their cultural identities and remake their coming-of-age stories.
The artists present a series of large-scale animated installations and interactive gaming environments using commodified symbols of East-Asian culture that have become commonplace globally. These symbols include K-pop dance routines, the use of seaweed in food and beauty products, hypersexualised female avatars and spiritual icons stripped of their religious significance. Yaloo and Sian Fan take these symbols and remix them to build playful new worlds. Curated by Carrie Chan, our 2022 Curator-in-Residence, the exhibition challenges the conventional ways we define our backgrounds to embrace identities that are more fluid.
Yaloo presents a mystical underwater garden of seaweed: an immersive journey through ancient beliefs and family history. The installation explores how Korean rituals and traditions have been branded and repackaged as products for consumption. Yaloo reclaims these symbols and weaves them together with the experiences of three generations of her maternal family to forge her own path.
Above the water’s surface, Sian Fan’s world takes shape as a lotus flower-filled sanctuary. The interactive artwork challenges romanticised ideas of East-Asian culture and standards of femininity found in anime and fantasy games.
Together, the artists' works create a space for discovery and dialogue. For them, the blossoming of new, fluid identities begins by exploring our roots and history. This passage to self-realisation can be hard, and at times painful, but ultimately enlightening and joyful.