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.

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FORTHCOMING AUTUMN 2022
Urbanomic K-Pulp Switch





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Wish Lush
Curated by Elaine Tam & Arthur Gouillart
2–8 June 2022
Kravitz Contemporary

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  

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We woke up from the heat again. It was no longer an easy icebreaker to talk about the weather; the phraseology ‘icebreaker’ itself had awkwardly dropped out of common parlance. The frogs were croaking parched as potpourri lumped in empty ponds and picnics were intolerable except for at night on that patch of grass out front. We were awake, but not because we were intending to picnic. 

You switch on your phone, doom-scrolling. Peppered throughout your feed, amidst rosy news headlines and temperature charts, are dogs, cats and other entertaining animal videos. They make great plot devices with their cute behaviour set to ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’ and I ask you if you remember that song. It’s a viral phenomenon, and this is one way you passively consume what we now call ‘nature’.

The sky above floods us with solar powering rays. But the energy sum total often overwhelms our smart-home system, and then everything behaves with a kind of turn-of-the-century nervous exhaustion. Sunbathing is not just out of fashion, it's out of the question, unless you’re compelled to it by your death drive. Whatever happened to the benevolent sun of the golden age? The one they used in old commercials, which made the wheat shine.     

Lately, I’m more attracted to the reassuring glow of the fridge. Foil parcels and the dinky ice box for plain and simple reasons make me think of cryonics, how technology is making the impossible possible, so why can’t we reverse time and make ourselves the technofossils of a new Ice Age and start all over again with the carbon-trapping steppes etcetera. I pluck a can of vitamin-infused tea from between the overripe bananas and enjoy a cold swig. I forget this moment of something beyond grief.

Our home is like a greenhouse, we are lucky and it is nice. Herbaceous and verdant are words we enjoy using to describe it. Those less privileged paint their walls ‘sap’ or ‘palm’, the pigments are made of ground urban detritus and these colours are said to improve mental health. When we were young, we hated the flowery wallpaper that made the house look like the inside of a chocolate box. I wonder why, when now we find it exotic.  

These signifiers dovetail into embellishments for emptiness, overdetermined forms dried to a crisp. But there you are, big, leafy and green, and I am no longer shy to say that I love you. We gift you to the neighbour who will give you water before he drinks it himself. He says: ‘Thanks so much, I appreciate it, and I hope the world lasts for you.’ I feel good about this; that night I fall asleep and dream of the smell of rain.

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List of works

230 Portobello Road
London W11 1LJ
United Kingdom