University artist to produce film for BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine
10 June 2021
Dr Kai Syng Tan part of series championing the work of disabled artists
A University artist-academic has produced a new film for BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine, as part of a series championing the work of D/deaf, neurodivergent and disabled artists.
Dr Kai Syng Tan, from Manchester School of Art at Manchester Metropolitan University, is one of 12 artists who will produce new film and audio works for BBC platforms this summer as part of the initiative that has brought the arts into people’s homes during COVID-19 lockdowns.
The commissions showcase the work of D/deaf (sign language users and hearing aid users who use those and lip reading to communicate), neurodivergent and disabled artists by helping them produce work when some may have been self-isolating, and provide a platform to explore their experiences of living through COVID-19.
Dr Tan’s film How To Thrive In 2050! 8 Tentacular Workouts For A Tantalising Future! is a “call for action for a more creative, equitable and neuro-fantastic future by a ‘human-octopussy’.”
The 15-minute ‘video art essay’ will comprise eight ‘exercises’ encompassing performance, animation, interviews (including with artist Bob and Roberta Smith), spoken and visual text and original music composition.
The new short film draws on her various recent commissions including a keynote lecture re-imagining the future of education and work presented to 130 Royal Society of Arts Fellows last summer. This was followed by a theatre commission on ‘leadership’, and another keynote for international collective H0thouse this year on the future of the arts and cinema.
Dr Tan, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Art and Performance, said: “I am pleased to be invited to contribute to BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine series. In such times of despair, art can remind us to imagine how things can be, and that each of us can and must play an active part. My film is a sweaty call for action – come join me and my entourage of animal friends to co-create a better future together.”
Dr Tan is an artist who works across different media and disciplines, including as a a filmmaker, producer, visual and communications director and curator, whose work has won the San Francisco International Film Festival Golden Gate Award, New York Film Anthology MoMA and National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement Award for Culture Change, and featured at events such as the £4m ASEAN Para Games Opening Ceremony. Her films are in the public collections of Fukuoka Art Museum and Museum of London.
In such times of despair, art can remind us to imagine how things can be, and that each of us can and must play an active part
The BBC Culture in Quarantine film builds on her work advancing conversations around creativity and neurodiversity, reflected in the 270-member global Neurodiversity In/And Creative Research Network she founded.
Culture in Quarantine
The programme was established to mark the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act into law, forming part of wider disability programming across the BBC.
The film and audio works commissioned include performance dramas, dance, comedy, spoken word poetry and animation, with the majority of artists highlighting aspects of the disabled experience of living through the pandemic.
This batch of commissions from artists across the country showcases the breadth of inspiring work we’ve all missed experiencing over this past lockdown year.
Commissions were selected by a panel including representatives from BBC Arts, Arts Council England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland, Unlimited and the UK Disability Arts Alliance.
Lamia Dabboussy, BBC Head of Arts, said: “This batch of commissions from artists across the country showcases the breadth of inspiring work we’ve all missed experiencing over this past lockdown year.
"I’m thrilled that, as part of Culture In Quarantine, these pieces will be brought to life across BBC platforms. It’s imperative that D/deaf, neurodivergent and disabled professional artists are supported to carry on making brilliant work, as the constraints and continuing effects of this pandemic threaten to silence their vital creative voice.”