ELAINE (MEI LIN) TAM



is an itinerant writer and 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. Research interests include psychoanalytic theory, performance writing and feminist new materialisms.

She is also an editress at White Cube gallery, Fieldnotes Journal and Whitelies magazine.

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FORTHCOMING 
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SELECTED RECENT




BURN, BABY, BURN

is a review of Lindsey Mendick’s exhibition ‘Off With Her Head’ at Carl Freedman Gallery, Margate. Walking the reader through specific artworks across the three rooms of the show, the piece discusses mythology, the artist’s use of clay, and feminine rage. Read further for smoking pussycats, wine crate dioramas and Pandora’s (tissue) box. 

Commissioned by Doris Press, an art and writing initiative founded by painter Rachel Howard.
AUGUST 2022

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DESIGNING THE WILD

is a research paper written by Arthur Gouillart and Elaine Tam, which traces the historical constructions of a ‘wild’ environment pervading ecological thought. Its aim is to ultimately reveal the artificiality of its signification as origin, purity and inherently good, and interrogate the concept of an ‘authentic’ natural environment. 

Published by Raddar, an annual design review by the Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts (MUDAC), Lausanne.  BUY NOW
AUGUST 2022

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A.R. PENCK
Edited by Elaine Tam

Published to accompany an exhibition on the late German artist A.R. Penck at White Cube, London, this monograph spotlights paintings by the artist, and lesser-known Super8 films he made in collaboration with director Wolfgang Opitz. Testifying to Penck’s assertion that art should be for everyone, the works mobilise the artist’s unique concept of Standart (a portmanteau of ‘standard’ and ‘art’) and are complemented by an in-depth essay by Hannah Klemm and an in-conversation with Andrea Schlieker, originally published in Artscribe in 1983. BUY NOW
JULY 2022

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ZONING AT SOUTH LONDON GALLERY

A local walking workshop by Fieldnotes editors Bella Marrin and Elaine Tam exploring poetic and performative techniques of ‘place-based’ writing. Key texts and visual references will be used to look at methods such as: concrete poetry, psychogeography and frottage, as ways of mapping the urban landscape through graphic scores, typography and language.

Saturday 23rd July, 11am–1pm
Spaces limited, BOOK NOW
JULY 2022

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THE IDLE CLOTH

is an essay appearing in Jonathan Michael Ray’s artist publication Ubi Umbra Cadit, published to coincide with his two-person exhibition with Wilhelmina Barns-Graham at Tate St. Ives. The limited edition publication spotlights recent and new work of Ray’s. The text on Ray’s work threads excerpts from Samuel Beckett’s Ill Seen Ill Said, ideas from Hal Foster’s Brutal Aesthetics and original fictive prose. BUY NOW
JUNE 2022

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REVERB AT PUSHKIN HOUSE

is a Fieldnotes writing workshop which will explore concepts related to collective memory, historicity and personal archives. Together, we will consider poetics and politics, narratives marginal to the historical record, and the ways in which the event is made manifest by different techniques and styles of writing.

Saturday 11 June 2022
Spaces limited, BOOK NOW
Image: Teju Cole
JUNE 2022

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WISH LUSH

is a group exhibition curated by Elaine Tam and Arthur Gouillart for Kravitz Contemporary. Situated by environmental philosophy and the ever-present climate emergency, Wish Lush engages the enchantment, ambivalence and melancholy with which its 14 artists approach contemporary landscapes and the natural world.

Featuring João Alves, Louis Appleby, Suzy Babington, Ryan Brown, Sofie Burgaard, Luke Burton, Zoë Carlon, May Hands, Angus McCrum, Peter Larsen, Ranald Macdonald, Conor Murgatroyd, Alfie Rouy and Paula Turmina 
JUNE 2022

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BLOCK AT WHITECHAPEL GALLERY

celebrates the artist’s studio as a site of failure and frustration, reflecting on the role these play in creative process. Bringing together experiences of failure, desperation and frustrated intentions, the workshop will consider how writing might be deployed as a medium or tool to en/counter creative blocks.

Thursday 5 May 2022
Spaces limited, BOOK NOW
Image: Wolfgang Tillmans, after party (c) (2002), detail
MARCH 2022

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EYOT

A new project by London-based Geopoetics Research Group about islands, their intensities and chaotic psychic states. This 1-hour montage explores the mysteries of the archipe-logical, and considers breakaway evolution, fugitive imaginaries and the tie between erosion and sovereignty.

For this, Elaine Tam + Arthur Gouillart have co-authored a short piece entitled Cadaver island, which explores Philipp Mainlander’s philosophy and the stages of decomposition.

Aired Thursday 24 March 4pm GMT on Montez Press Radio as part of a day-long program with Chisenhale Studios, London. Listen to instant playback here.
MARCH 2022

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TELL-TALE HEART,
MAGIC WAFERS
AND YOUNG LOVE

Three page-long stories comprise this commission responding to Open Space's 2022 theme of 'Recovery Through Kinship'.

Tell-tale heart is a Poe-inspired piece that twins ideas of 'bloodthirsty' and 'blood ties'; Magic wafers interrogates the relationship between transubstantiation, communion and community; in Young love, a man longing for his deceased mother discovers an elixir of youth.
MARCH 2022

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ZONING AT SOUTH LONDON GALLERY

A local walking workshop by Fieldnotes editors Bella Marrin and Elaine Tam exploring poetic and performative techniques of ‘place-based’ writing. Key texts and visual references will be used to look at methods such as: concrete poetry, psychogeography and frottage, as ways of mapping the urban landscape through graphic scores, typography and language.

Saturday 5 February 2022
Spaces limited, BOOK NOW
Image: Max Ernst, Histoire naturelle, c.1925
FEBRUARY 2022

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SUBTEXTS

Unlike the vast, unknowable underworld, the field in which human activities take place is but a thin film on the Earth’s crust. Delving towards telluric intensities, Subtexts is a collection of geopoetic, sublithic writing – an earthward analytical offshoot exploring Nature’s underbelly and its chaotic psychic propensities. Poetry, art writing and essay come together in this mysterious anthology, to give silhouette to what lurks beneath.

For this, Elaine Tam + Arthur Gouillart have co-authored Conduit, a work of theory-fiction inspired by the strange story of a fradulent Austrian biologist.

Edited with a preface by Robin Mackay. 

SOLD OUT (E-COPIES ONLY)
FIND OUT MORE
JANUARY 2022

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7 MOVEMENTS

is a work of theoretical autofiction that grapples with the unknown in seven short chapters.

‘7 Movements’ features in the digital publication Overflow alongside artwork by Geistė Kinčinaitytė and further writing by Isabelle McNeill and Esther Teichmann. 

Read more...
DECEMBER 2021

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MATERIA

A piece of poetic prose on the transmissive nature of maternality published alongside Nicole Maria Winkler’s body of work Materia, in response to Whitelies Magazine December issue #10 theme ‘Patience’. 

Read the pieceORDER NOW
DECEMBER 2021

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EMOTIONAL FREQUENCIES

is a two-person show by Francesca Blomfield and Maki Katayama taking place at imlabor, Tokyo (12 December 2021 — 23 Janaury 2022). 

Written to accompany the show is an enigmatic text in third-person about ‘Ringlets’. Read more...
DECEMBER 2021

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SPIGOT OF LOVE

A short essay about aberrant breasts in art, this text traverses references as diverse as Philip Roth’s novella The Breast (1972), the ‘jatte-téton’ milk bowl allegedly modelled upon Marie Antoinette’s breast, Lee Miller’s striking images of a radical masectomy, as well as Alina Szapocznikow’s uncanny sculpture Dessert III (1971).

Read more...

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

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THE COMPANION
Edited by Honey Luard and Elaine Tam  

An anthology of writings, in-conversations and visual essays platforming contemporary artistic practices and White Cube’s activities.

In it, Bronwyn Katz speaks to Zoé Whitley about the tactility of South African click languages and land as something that is ‘not owned but owns us’. Dakin Hart explores Isamu Noguchi’s idea of the perfect functional object, focusing on his hypothetical proposals for playgrounds. Tracey Emin shares her reflections from intensive care, before and after cancer surgery. And much, much more. 
OCTOBER 2021

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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). 

Read more...
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 interweaving theory with original writing by Geiste Kincinaityte and Elaine Tam, for the annual symposium 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

An illustrated transcript of ‘SPILLS’ has been published in volume 1 of Deleuzine, ‘a zine for nobodies without organs’, click here for soft copy.

Image: Cy Twombly, Natural History, Mushrooms (1974)
JULY 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).

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 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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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. 

Elaine’s ‘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 Elaine, 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.

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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