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Reflected and Re-imagined (2023)

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In April 2023 I lead a series of workshops for public at National Gallery as part of my two-week residency. These workshops responded to Nalini Malani’s site-specific moving image on display at the Gallery; My Reality is Different (2022).

In this moving image Malani distorts and makes digital drawing on various paintings from the collection to generate an alternative narrative.

The premise of this residency was to explore the materiality of light and shadow as spontaneous means for making drawing and performance. It approached drawing as independent and collaborative spontaneous activities that focus on the process of making rather than the result.

By creating a safe and welcoming environment participants were first invited to draw their own self portrait spontaneously by using mirrors and  placing clear acetate on their face.

They were then encouraged to playfully explore transparent papers and various objects such as magnifying lamps, flashlights, flexible mirrors and magnifying glasses to manipulate and play with their self-portraits and the silhouette it casts.

Participants also experimented with the silhouette of their self-portrait on papers hung from the walls of two tents in the gallery.

These small tents operated as a means to split the space into private and public realms. They also operated as a means to claim ownership over National Gallery, and create a sensation of belonging for the participants, especially of marginalised background.`

Participants were also invited to place their drawing in front of the projector and play with the silhouette it casts on the screen. In doing so, participants instantaneously found themselves to be part of the projected paintings. This empowered them to perform their alter egos, and create alternative narratives about the characters in the paintings used in Malani's My Reality is Different (2022)

The activities in these workshops encouraged participants to work both independently and collaboratively. This enabled inter-generational collaboration between members of families/collectives and encouraged them to delegate roles in a playful setting.

It also invited  many participants to come out of their shell, form new connections, and explored the dynamics of their newly-formed collective identity. Based on my experience  participants provided constructive feedback to each other and made new friends whilst exploring with light and shadow.

 

These workshops provided practical understanding to participants on how art-making operates as an essential means for expressing one’s cultural, ethnic and sexual identity identity.
Furthermore, by super imposing their self-portrait on various paintings, participants established a sense of belonging towards the Gallery's architecture and its collection.

These experimentations were particularly crucial for marginalised participants including refugees, LGBTQ+, and neuro-diverse participants.

A Book full of poems

In one of the workshops one of the young participants (Yr2  girl) decided to make a book from different transparent acetate sheets.

Every page contained site-specific poems responding to her own observations and spontaneous feeling towards the National Gallery's architecture and collection of paintings.

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