Artists' Spare Room | Jan Ming-Lee and Lucas Chi-Peng Kao


Another, Othered and Each Other

We spent the week laying down the soil for the seeds of new explorations together. Some things we set to do were successful, others broke into pieces and became new seeds, some got composted along the way.

We came to the residency wishing to explore identity and what make us who we are, starting from investigation about ourselves, what are the similarity and difference between us in terms of personal history and how to combine our different approaches.

We wanted to experiment with sensory perception - what happens if you cannot see or hear the speech of another person but relate in bodyspace and touch and proximity? Can you tell who they are? Does it break down division or create more false assumptions? How could this be playfully explored in other formats like a performance where you may never have met the other?

As East Asian diasporic artists how can we dialogue with rural/local communities and landscapes outside of cities where we are mainly represented?

Our process led us to find different angles to approach diversity: through conversations with locals, Eden Arts team, individuals and communities connected to Penrith, we confronted ‘outsider’ in every way it met us: including a visit to the Appleby horse trading fair on Friday: the biggest UK event for Irish and Romani heritage travellers. We were Others with others who were othered too.

We continued exploring the ideas from Lucas’ workshop based on different generation diasporic identity with East Asian and South East Asian heritage artists. We combined this also with Jan-Ming’s research into what her touch/spoken conversation in her therapy work can bring to the creative process in physical and storytelling. We combined these ideas into an informal trial workshop and tested it on the people who work in Eden Arts.

“weight pulls here, where I am…borders running through me, also are fuses to the outside others, many, intersections, I am, complete circle” – Jan-Ming

Creating conditions for a project to grow is an important process for me that allow ideas to become alive. In collaborating with another person how can we set it up to be honest and hear the particular resonances and dissonances we have, both personally and artistically?

“The constant unwinding and discovering of what was layered upon us by our family, society, country of birth and country of residence.” - Lucas

Here are some things we did:

Spend 20 minutes with the spaces in Eden Arts and create an interactive experience for the other person based on one of these words:Noodles / Reincarnation / Ocean / Spirituality / Identity

Walk together in Rickerby Park by the river, have a good chat to check in about fears and trust to help our collaboration. Bodywork and Witnessing by the water.

Clean up the floor and built a movement space with circus mats, as well as creating emotional safe space to allow in depth conversation of our personal stories and experience. Setting boundaries and poking the uncomfortable with our facilitator and communication skills.

Morning practice: repeat on different days. The same ritual of moving, writing, drawing/painting and conversation around what we share and how we are different. This leads to building creative tasks that can become practices in themselves.

As a reflection at the end of the residency, we recorded our conversation: about other people’s energies who are present; who came and left us during the week. These were people who used to be in our lives as well as people we had never met but had heard about and connected deeply with (e.g. our ancestors).

Organising the ongoing unfolding sharing of living space, through being in proximity; resting, playing, being fed, cooking, laughing, tensing, relaxing, under-standing, standing under, rolling over, performing and rehearsing the next performance;

This all contributing to the ground soil which is preparing us for future collaboration; trust being a main element that supports openness in the creative process.

Thank you to everyone at Eden Arts, who boldly took our trial workshop and help us through the week, and especially Adrian who started the Artist’s Spare Room and provided us with accommodation.

You can watch a short interview with the artists here.

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  • Eden District Council
  • Supported using public funding by Arts Council England