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Yaloo and Sian Fan: My Garden, My Sanctuary at FACT Liverpool

July 21–October 9, 2022

My Garden, My Sanctuary, a series of fresh, immersive works by Yaloo and Sian Fan—two artists who use innovative technology to tell stories of heritage and self-discovery in a hyperconnected world—begins its run at FACT this summer.

My Garden, My Sanctuary, presented by Carrie Chan, FACT’s Curator-in-Residence for 2022, transports viewers to whimsical aquatic settings. Artists Yaloo (South Korea) and Sian Fan (UK) use commodified images of east Asia—from anime and K-pop to lotus flowers and seaweed—to reclaim their cultural identities and remix their coming-of-age tales. The new commissions alter the galleries by transforming them into huge dynamic displays and engaging gaming spaces.

Yaloo offers a mystical installation setting by fusing old Korean customs and beliefs with family histories. The entrance of Birthday Garden (2022), which features an underwater seaweed garden and a massive dynamic sheet mask, is designed to resemble a temple. The project examines the difficulty of forming one’s self-identity and cultural narratives in opposition to the global media’s commercialization of Korean culture.

Yaloo broadens the subjects in her work to include young people’s opinions and criticism of popular culture and social media as part of FACT’s study on how young people create and embody digital identities. The University of Liverpool’s K-pop Society members and a group of young people from Liverpool were interviewed in order to produce a dance that is inspired by K-pop, a public performance, and a podcast that details their creative process.

Sian Fan blends commercialized representations of East Asia with graphics from anime and fantasy video games. Sian presents an anime fantasy video game set in a haven of lotus blossoms and lily pads for her most recent commission, Lotus Root (2022). Hyper-realistic avatars that are based on the characters from the video games Grandia and Final Fantasy are tucked away in the environment. A shrine to the virtual self, Deity (2022). A digital performance that combines motion capture and actual movement is shown by multi-angle “mirrors” encased in sculptures that resemble roots. The connection between our virtual selves and the artist is shown when an avatar of the artist responds to audience involvement. The immersive installations question the idealized representations of East Asian culture and feminine norms that are prevalent in video games and animated films.

Established in 2019, FACT’s annual residency programme invites curators to develop their ideas and research into a major exhibition and public programme of events. Carrie Chan, 2022 Curator-in-Residence at FACT, said: “The exhibition has been curated to feel like a rite of passage: a journey where visitors encounter two artists whose works reflect on their own identities and cultural heritage within a technology-driven, alternative world. My residency at FACT has enabled me to explore diverse curatorial approaches in narrating stories on ancestry, identities and belonging, and has given me the opportunity to bring two acclaimed digital media artists to Liverpool – a city with a strong history of Asian immigrants and diaspora.” 

My Garden, My Sanctuary forms part of Radical Ancestry, FACT’s current year-long programme. Maitreyi Maheshwari, Head of Programme at FACT, said: “From ‘alternative museums’ of artworks that question how science and technology have shaped our understanding of the past, to the ways in which the stories and songs we inherit help define key moments in our lives, the Radical Ancestry programme is an exploration of our changing sense of self. This exhibition continues our journey from the past into a present in which the artists playfully remix symbols from their familial heritage with pop cultural references, creating new possibilities and hybrid identities. Carrie has introduced us to ambitious new artists whose outlooks and practices convey the energy and the difficulties in trying to forge a new way of being.”

As of right now, FACT is hosting My Garden, My Sanctuary till October 9, 2022. The exhibition will be followed by a public program of activities geared at families, such as cooking classes, curator tours, a talk about stereotypes and representation in video games, and performances by the artists.

FACT Liverpool
88 Wood Street
Liverpool L1 4DQ
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–6pm

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