陳靄媛 
MEL CHAN

(Hong Kong/the Netherlands)

My artistic research and practice focus on the commercialisation of (eastern) spirituality in the time of crisis, precarity and the anxiety that follows. They are reflections on the intricate and uneasy historical relation of colonisation, decolonisation and neocolonisation, from the perspective of a female being who was born in the last colony (Hong Kong) of the British Empire, grew up witnessing the paradigm shift (from neoliberalism to totalitarianism caused by the sovereignty transfer) and live as diaspora in the western Europe (the Netherlands).
 

Participatory performance functions  as a vehicle to visit these accounts and reveal their intertwining nature, as well as the hidden economy, in the contemporary context. By using techniques from the well-being and mindfulness industry, such as guided meditation, hypnotherapy, coaching and massage, my performances tempt participants into a simulated mechanism where their angst and guilt of dystopia could be redeemed by means of consumption. The work Dasein.be: The Pre-apocalypse Consultancy, for example, makes explicit that the secularized version of (Eastern) spirituality is but  a business practice following the logic of liberal market economics. The relationship between the therapist and client is mediated in monetary terms.
 

At the same time, such a conditional relationship also obscures the artist/audience relation. Such relational analogy, such blurring, poses as a critique on the problematic nature of participatory performance itself. The form (of my artistic practice) itself (as in Hand Massage and Break Milk Cocktail, for example) becomes an inquisition on the politics of spectatorship, the power relation, affective labour and economy of artistic production, as it rejects the notion of “pure”, “neutral” or “holy” ground of artistic space.  

 

 

BIOGRAPHY

 

'My grandma was sixteen when she fled to Hong Kong, all alone. 

 

Her father passed away when she was two. Her family blamed it on her for bringing bad luck. She was not allowed to go to school, but had to carry her brother on her back to school. 

 

One time, she saw the ghost of her deceased father. The ghost was sorry for her situation. Another time, she fell from a tree but was not hurt at all. Only her jade bracelet was broken. She said the spirit of the jade bracelet had protected her.

 

She gave birth to five children. Only two survived. She burnt all photographs of grandpa, who abandoned his family and started another outside of wedlock. 

 

Mother said grandma was a gambler who did not care for home. 

 

I don’t know about that.

I only know her tenderness. 

 

She whispered in my ears some formless stories while patting me to sleep. "The shrimp borrowed the eyes of the earthworm and never returned. Dog barks. Ruff-ruff. Cat meowed. Meow-meow." And so I fell asleep, until ashes piled up in the joss paper burner, and new flame rose on the kerosene stove.'

 

 

EDUCATION

2017-2019

MFA (Distinction), Master of Artistic Research,
THE ROYAL ACADEMY OF ART, THE HAGUE


2007-2010
Bachelor of Fine Arts, Fine Art

WILLEM DE KOONING ACADEMIE

 

1999-2003
Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy and Comparative Literature (Double Major) THE UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG

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SELECTED EXHIBITIONS



2020
OPTIMISM OVER DESPAIR, Contemporary Art Weekend, Den Haag
IN TIMES OF CONFINEMENT, Sinarts Gallery, Den Haag, the Netherlands.
TAKING CARE OF THE SMALL ONES, Sinarts Gallery, Den Haag, the Netherlands.

 

2019

NASTY WOMEN, #team/Femke, De Balie, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

ACPA CONFERENCE: IS THIS THING ON? THE PUBLIC DIMENSIONS OF ARTISTIC RESEARCH: Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, Leiden University, The Netherlands. 

LOCATING ArtScience #2: Children of the Space (A Forest), Today's Art Festival, The Grey Space In The Middle, Den Haag, The Netherlands

SPECTER, V2_, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

BOOK LAUNCH of If A Tree Falls in a Forest, Page Not Found, Den Haag, The Netherlands 

BETTER AS A CHORUS, MA Artistic Research, KABK, Den Haag, The Netherlands

ABANDONED REALITIES, Evermore, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

I WAS MOSTLY DELIGHTED, BUT YES, ALSO A LITTLE BIT AFRAID, Quartair, Den Haag, The Netherlands

 

2018
ON-GOING CONVERSATIONS #5, 1646, Den Haag, The Netherlands
THE REVERSE OB-SERVANT, Hospitalfield, Arbroath, Scotland
RISE, Quartair, The Hague, The Netherlands
RANDOM COLLECTIVE, Stroom, The Hague, The Netherlands


2017
THE ARTIST WILL BE DRUNK, Jimz Pub/KABK MAR, The Hague, The Netherlands

 

2016
3D ZINE, Foundation B.a.d, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
 

2014

IT’S ONLY THE END OF THE WORLD (SOLO EXHIBITION), Gallery H48, Nieuwpoort, The Netherlands

 

2013
INF. INS, Leeszaal Rotterdam West, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
POST SLACK, Roodkapje, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

KUNSTPRIJS La Lecq, de Zaag, Krimpen aan den Lek, The Netherlands
 

2012 ​​​​​​

KUNSTROUTE CROOSWIJK/DUENDE DICHT, Duende Studios, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

THREADNEEDLE PRIZE, Mall Galleries, London, The UK


2010

KUNSTWERK AAN DE WINKEL, CBK Schiedam, Schiedam, The Netherlands
DE FOTOPRIJS 09/10, Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam, The Netherlands CRIMMP_01, Podium OCW, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

ISN’T IT AS IT SOMETIMES GOES, Pictura, Dordrecht, The Netherlands

NOTHING PERSONAL, Kunstpodium T, Tilburg, The Netherlands

STATIONARY TRANSIENT, Blaak 10 Gallery, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
 

2009

1984, Kunstsuper, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

A MARKETING CAMPAIGN FOR AISTE STANCIKAITE, Erasmas Bridge, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

MUSEUMNACHT, Goethe Institute, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

I [heart] THE MASS, Maritime Museum, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

BLOODY VALENTINE, Downw_ARTS, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
 

​​​​​​​​​​AWARDS/NORMINATIONS/RESIDENCE


2016 Artist in Residence, Foundation B.a.d, Rotterdam

2012 Threadneedle Prize (Exhibition selection)
2011-2013 March Guest Artist, Duende Studio Rotterdam
2010 NORMINATION, De Fotoprijs 2010, The Netherlands