ELAINE (MEI LIN) TAM



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is an itinerant curator, writer, researcher from Hong Kong currently living and working in London. She collaborates with artists and thinkers to create new forms and forums for critical engagement; her practice is an interdisciplinary site for play, pleasure, gesture, enquiry and, importantly, failure. Research interests include psychoanalytic theory, performance writing and feminist new materialisms.



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SELECTED RECENT




DEAR HENRIK

An exhibition text taking epistolary form, written to accompany Henrik Potter’s new body of work ‘Very Cold’ at SUNDY, London (7 October — 27 November 2021). 

Excerpt: 

We speak of the facticity of practicals: hinges, what a scaffold permits, the use of clay as a sealant. How it looks like impasto, the way its applied — slathered on bones, encrusting their spines. Musty muslin, its accrual of dilute colour wash by wash. The way a tentative line of stitching embellishes. (It must have taken courage to do that, I thought, moments of deferral and surrender.) Gestures you cannot take back forming part of a register.
OCTOBER 2021

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INTERVALS

Littered with interrupted thoughts and rogue em dashes, and finishing with the first line of John Keats’ Endymion (1818), ‘Intervals’ is a pace-y poem that directs (in as much as it instructs) a romantic attenuation to the clandestine everyday affairs of urban life. 

Written for FORM IV, a mutant magazing started in New York in 2013 and run by artists. 
SEPTEMBER 2021

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MUDCAST

Along the Deptford Creek as the tide recedes, mudlarkers descend onto the bank, accessing a non-linear history of detritus. Their finds chronicle a history of settlements, as commerce, warfare, agriculture and colonialism have littered the Thames since pre-Roman times. Mudcast combines interviews, field recordings, music and poetry to tell the stories of mudlarkers.

Commissioned by AAJA Radio and Deptford X Festival; Mudcast aired Friday 16 July, 12pm.
JULY 2021

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SPILLS 

— a performance lecture by Geiste Kincinaityte and Elaine Tam for Tactics & Praxis: Creativity, Pleasure and Ethics in Academic Work.

Hosted by Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), University of Cambridge

A transcript of ‘SPILLS’ has been published in volume 1 of Deleuzine, ‘a zine for nobodies without organs’.
JULY 2021

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MUSEUM OF SPACE JUNK

is an ongoing critical project which considers life, ethics and politics in our space-bound future. Exploring collective futuring, world-building and speculative design, the project invites writers and thinkers to respond to a mystery ‘digital artefact’ with a short piece of writing.

Initiated on the occasion of the Italian Virtual Pavillion, Venice Biennale of Architecture 2021. 
JUNE 2021

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SANYA KANTAROVSKY, INTO THE BLUE

A comparative reading of Kantarovsky’s blue paintings with reference to Pablo Picasso’s Blue period (1901-1905), interspersed with fragments of Derek Jarman’s Chroma (1994).

The sky blue butterfly
Sways on a cornflower
Lost in the warmth
Of the blue heat haze
Singing the blues
Quiet and slowly
Blue of my heart
Blue of my dreams
Slow blue love
Of delphinium days.
—Derek Jarman

Read more...

Commissioned by Doris Press, an art and writing initiative founded by British painter Rachel Howard.
JUNE 2021

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SEMIONAUTICS X SUBTEXTS

An auditory experience by Semionautics and Subtexts, two projects toeing the line between fact and fabulation to explore natural phenomena and the syncretic now.

Writings and readings by Eloise Bennett, Silvia Bombardini, Andrew Copolov, James Hendrix Elsey, Arthur Gouillart, Alasdair Milne, George Finlay Ramsay, Siegrun Salmanian and Elaine Tam.

First aired by Montez Press Radio. Read this article on Clot Magazine to find out how the thought of Stanislaw Lem has inspired Semionautics.
MARCH 2021

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MONSTER MOMS AND PHANTOM PAINS

Tala Madani’s pithy look at Shit Moms and Mother Figures is dark, slippery and dead refreshing. While her older work may have explored male maladies, these recent paintings are replete with psychoanalytic ideas of femme gravitas. The handful in focus here — Mother Figure (2018), Shit Mom (Quads) (2019), The Womb (2019) and Untitled (2020) — bear Madani’s sparing palette which, as the artist professes, alternate between swarthy Watchmen comic shades and kindergarten pastels.

Read more...

Commissioned by Doris Press, an art and writing initiative founded by British painter Rachel Howard.
MARCH 2021

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FIELDNOTES

is a print journal publishing new writing and artworks which aims to provide a test site for ideas and research; a space for experimental modes and new prototypes. 

FN001 features work by Estelle Hoy, Helen Marten, Kathleen Stewart & Lauren Berlant, Ben Rivers, among others. To preview the first few pages click here.

FN002 features work by Ed Atkins, Paul Maheke, Elizabeth Price among others. To preview the first few pages click here.
SPRING/SUMMER 2021

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SNAKE (IN CHANEL 66 PULSE)

is a becoming-animal, neo-noir prose poem inspired by a Chanel lipstick shade, 18th century Baroque composer Scarlatti, Youtube video clips of snake poaching and, notably, Deleuze & Guattari’s notion of becoming. 

This work was published in Issue 2 of Horizon Magazine.

The audio / reading of Snake was released with Horizon Magazine’s sister project Matters Beyond Print via Spotify. Click here to listen. 
FEBRUARY 2021

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LOOKING FOR LEONORA (CARRINGTON)

was my question to her Tarot, the selection of cards that answered appear here as a guide to this text. The distant stars beget a possibility, a means of path, a field of virtualities. A splay of cards will call forth a reckoning — a game of image association meets a delightful play with chance. To it, we deploy intuitive practices commonly used in the reading of art, whereby we attune ourselves to symbols, colour, scale and proportion, compositional harmony.

Read more...

Commissioned by Doris Press, an art and writing initiative founded by British painter Rachel Howard.
FEBRUARY 2021

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FUGUES

is a study of objects. Elements repeat and imitate one another like a polyphonic canon of voices narrating stories of domestic confinement in looped time. With images by photographer Nicole Maria Winkler & texts by artist Issy Wood, writer Ella Plevin, model Freja Beha Erichsen and curator Elaine Tam. 

Stockists include Claire de Rouen Books, Rile Space, Good Press, Librairie Sans Titre, Socco Chico among others.

Elaine’s contribution ‘Notes 28 & 26’ is part of an ongoing series of poems derived from the ‘found’ material in her Notes app. To read more Notes, click here. 
DECEMBER 2020

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A PRIMER ON FICTIONING

An introductory series on the notion of Fictioning (inspired by Simon O’Sullivan) brought to you by arts professional Elaine Tam and designer Arthur Gouillart.

This 5-week course ran on Monday evenings in August and September on Zoom. It was free and open to all thanks to the support of The Trampery.

The aim was to provide a toolkit for multi-disciplinary creative adaptation and foster a site for collaborative thinking. The session readings and references, much of which is available online, are shared here as a resource for autodidacts and other reading groups.
SEPTEMBER 2020

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12 FALSE STARTS

A collaborative work by Angus McCrum and Elaine Tam in an edition of 120. Commissioned as part of Kingsgate Postal Service, a socially distant mail-art program delivering new art and writing to your door. Supported by Arts Council England and creatively managed by Workform.

To learn more about Angus McCrum, his practice, and this edition, read this interview on Young Artists in Conversation.
SEPTEMBER 2020

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HEAVEN

is a video essay by Elaine Tam and Arthur Gouillart. In it, a languishing narrator provides short a meditation on the anesthetics of the clinic or sanatorium, and its relationship to the white-walled gallery, as she waits in a waiting room. 

This work was created for Slipstream, an artist’s moving image program and fundraiser (curated by James Hendrix Elsey and Bianca Hlywa) in solidarity with Refugee Week.

Its permanent home is now HOAX, a collection and curatorial project in digital and in print. 
JUNE 2020

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CHATROOM: EMPATHY

Artists Geiste Kincinaityte, George Finlay Ramsay, Rebecca Salvadori and curator Elaine Tam convene virtually to bring you a one hour program comprising three existing films, as well as a new collaborative piece. In the latter, textual response meets remote spoken word performance, a means through which the group consider the intimacy and mediation so prescient to our times.

Learn more about Rebecca Salvadori's film practice and Chatroom: Empathy through her interview with Kabul Magazine here.
APRIL 2020

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SMOOTH SPACE, PLEATED

is a solo-presentation of new work by Geistė Kinčinaitytė which revolves around the artist's debut film piece — a video essay entitled The Pool. This work is the result of a collaboration with curator-writer Elaine Tam, and experimental composers Simon Allen, Jan Hendreickse and Sandro Mussida. The culmination of a long-standing fascination with the unheimlich, Kinčinaitytė uses image-making to draw out the mesmeric charge of naturally-occurring phenomena: bodies of water, barren lands and interior cavities.

Solastalgia, an in-depth review of this exhibition by Joginte Bucinskaite, is available on Echo Gone Wrong.
FEBRUARY 2020

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THE POOL

Interweaving theory and fiction, The Pool is a tripartite piece of performance writing comprising Sessions, Diagrams and Afterword. Sessions takes the form of transcribed interviews charting a series of shore-side events, as it is recounted by an unidentified Narrator. In its relationship to departure the shore is a demarcation; a place where the classical, idealised voyage must risk subversion by Derrida's unforeseen counterpart: the arrivant.

Writing by Elaine Tam
Design by Eva Mozaz
Images by Geistė Kinčinaitytė
Diagrams by Arthur Gouillart
FEBRUARY 2020

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