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The Syntactical Impossibility of Approaching with a Pure Heart, 2008 Video Installation
Curated by: Eliza Tan

2 Clunbury Str
London N1 6TT
United Kingdom
November 5th, 2010 - December 19th, 2010

shoreditch, hoxton
+44 20 3417 0159
Wednesdays-Saturdays: 12-6pm
mixed-media, installation, performance, conceptual, modern



4 November – 19 December 2010

An exhibition of works by

Anita di Bianco (US/DE)

Aoife Collins (IE)

Trong G. Ngyuen (US)

Kate Pickering (UK)

Erika Tan (SG/UK)

TinTin Wulia (ID)


Performances by

Lynn Lu (SG)

Matthew MacKisack (UK)


Exhibition curated by Eliza Tan


Whereas the highly rational societies of the Renaissance felt the need to create Utopias, we of our times must create fables. - Francis Alÿs

A low, indistinct and continuous sound, murmuring evokes the telling of stories or rumours that conjure powerful mental pictures. Murmuring otherwise connotes an endless babble of visual and verbal information - the point where language fails and meaning collapses.

Underscoring mechanisms of verbal imagination and visual enactment, linguistic rupture and the dissolution of the image, murmur explores fiction-making as a means by which to critically reorder the data of experience, frameworks of memory and limits of perception.

The artists in the exhibition have mined sources ranging from folklore and literature, to history and cultural theory, selectively reiterating and placing ownership over information, language and images that otherwise slip into an anonymous stream of murmuring. The artworks raise enquiries on existing social narratives, rationalities and systems of belief as the artists attempt to spin new fables from borrowed plots by deploying fiction as an evaluative strategy; a blank space from which to recall, to speak and to perform.

Featuring newly commissioned titles and works previously not shown in the UK, the project brings together video, installation and sculpture works by Anita di Bianco (US/DE), Aoife Collins (IE), Trong G. Nguyen (US), Kate Pickering (UK), Erika Tan (UK/SG), TinTin Wulia (ID) and live performances by Lynn Lu (UK/SG) and Matthew MacKisack (UK) due to take place on the First Thursday of December.



Born 1970, New York, lives and works in Berlin and New York

Anita Di Bianco is a video and filmmaker living in New York concerned with issues of media representation and modes of dissemination. Her videos take up, modify and re-work existing and re-imagined literary / film characters – excerpting and adapting the texts of Gertrude Stein, of Jean Gênet’s play The Maids, and of Marguerite Yourcenar’s anti-fascist novel A Coin in Nine Hands, as well as revisiting familiar media rituals and pop-cultural tropes. Her work involves the imitative act, a taste for the possession and expulsion of narratives, the appropriation of familiar texts and writing styles, using widely varying kinds of sources. Besides her work with several historical novels and current newspapers, recent projects include the writing and filming of a series of love letters. The subsequent video series, Letters from the Unsuspecting, in line with much of her oeuvre, seems taken straight from the social imaginary, reclaiming their sentiment and breadth from the realm of cliché. (Kim Paice)



Born 1980 Dublin, Ireland

Aoife Collins interdisciplinary practice explores the transience and mutability of objects, ideas and public personas, especially the filtering down from ‘highbrow’ to popular culture and the inherent changes of form and meaning that occur in these circumstances. In effect, her practice reflects on how history, culture and fashion collide, and on the multitude of different strategies of communication. Collins work looks at the navigation of our cultural landscape, how cultural paraphernalia and ideas are disseminated and resonate with wide audiences. Collins question the function of materials, objects and images, as well as their potentiality to escape their positioning, and their ability to take on new identities.

A newly commissioned series of prints and plaster works by Collins takes a different angle by playfully recalling art-historical narratives on the found object and the modernist revulsion of kitsch.

Collins received a BA from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, followed by an MA from Chelsea College of Art and Design, London. Selected residencies include Location One, New York; Skowhegan, USA, and Scottish Sculpture Workshop, Scotland. Selected exhibitions include Lost in your eyes, Form Content, London; Location One, New York; Working Rooms, London; Goethe Institute, Dublin; and Project Gallery, Dublin. She is currently completing a residency with the Irish Museum of Modern Art.



Born 1971 Saigon, Vietnam, lives and works in New York

Trong Gia Nguyen is a New York based artist whose works contend with power relationships between viewer and art object. Traditionally this dynamic favored the viewer, who determines the criteria for assessing a work - how long to look at it, under what formal qualities, and so on. By manipulating the ‘looking act’ itself and inverting this gaze, Nguyen reclaims control. In Library (2007-), the work in this exhibition, Nguyen borrows various texts, either in whole or in part, and transcribes them onto grains of rice where they are mixed together out of order.

Nguyen has exhibited internationally at exhibitions including Sequences 2008 (Iceland), 9th Havana Biennial (Cuba) and Performa 05 (New York) and has also curated prolifically.



Born 1975 London, UK

“My work arises from the marginal position of being an artist who is also religious, working within the ‘post-ideological’ world of contemporary art. I use this counter-cultural position to address the beliefs and disbelief I encounter about art. I am interested in how the language of religion might be used to both examine and undo art world norms and assumptions. Recent work has taken the form of performance and text based work, which are usually displayed as video installations. The text work 'How To Be Good' makes explicit the multiple and contradictory ideas about what might be acceptable art, turning them into a list of commandment-like rules An ongoing series of performances slip between sincerity and irony, and confuse the languages of art and religion (specifically Christian evangelical culture). Through this strategy of over-identifying with the fervor of belief in some higher purpose, the work aims to upend the expectations of a liberal disenchanted audience, with whom this proves awkward and difficult to accommodate.”

Kate Pickering graduated from Goldsmiths College with an MFA in 2009. She has recently exhibited at Bearspace Gallery, London; Woodmill Studios, London; Am Nuden Da, London; and De Bridge, London.



Born 1967, Singapore, lives and works in London

Erika Tan is a British-based artist and curator whose work has evolved from an interest in anthropology and the moving image. Her work is often informed by specific cultural, geographical or physical contexts; exploring different media to create situations that excite, provoke, question, confront and invite comments from an audience.

In this exhibition, Tan will be contributing part of her large-scale installation The Syntactical Impossibility of Approaching With A Pure Heart (2008). Alluding to the popular story/ancient myth that Fuji only fully reveals itself to someone approaching with a ‘pure heart’, Tan speculates on whether such an innocent address is even remotely possible, knowing what we know already of one of the planet’s most reproduced and recognisable landmarks, and the untold numbers of people (from master painters to gawking tourists) who have fixed it in their sights.

Tan studied Social Anthropology and Archaeology at Kings College, Cambridge and Film Directing at The Beijing Film Academy, followed by an M.A in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins School of Art, London. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally including the 2006 Singapore Biennale; The South London Gallery; ICA, London; The Norwich Gallery; and The Hayward Gallery, London.



Born 1972, Bali, Indonesia

Tintin Wulia’s artistic practice is informed by critical geopolitics. She examines the physical-spatial nature of borders; the relationship between citizenship, mobility, and political power; and between territory, mapping and cartography. Her work takes form in video, mural and 3-dimensional objects, and communicated through installations and interactive performances.

Wulia’s installation Window of Contemporary Art (WOCA): a Proposal for DICA (Donkey Institute for Contemporary Art) (2010) for murmur appropriates the well-known tale of King Midas as well as her own personal mythology to create a new fable. In Wulia’s fantasy, by gazing through the window, everything can become contemporary art.

Tintin has shown in Van Abbemuseum, Institute of Contemporary Art London, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, FACT at Liverpool Biennial, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Istanbul Biennial, Yokohama Triennial and Jakarta Biennale; her work is part of public and private collections in Europe and Asia.



Born 1975, Singapore

In Lynn Lu’s practice, the sentient body is seen as the main medium for perceiving and presenting meaning through direct personal experience. Engaging vigorously with the present reality of all that is here-and-now, the meaning of her context-specific works often manifest in the resonant relationships created between herself and her audience, and between the audience themselves.

Trained at Carnegie Mellon University, San Francisco Art Institute, and École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, she completed a doctoral program (A.B.D.) at Musashino Art University in Tokyo and is currently concluding her Doctoral thesis at the University of Newcastle in Australia. Lynn has received numerous grants, awards and commissions from the Singapore National Arts Council, Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lee Foundation, Ucross Foundation, and Carnegie Mellon University. Since 1997, Lynn has exhibited and performed extensively throughout Asia, Oceania, Europe and the Americas. Lynn currently lectures for the Department of Fine Arts at Lasalle College of the Arts and for the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University.



Born 1979, London, UK

Matthew MacKisack’s practice adopts a theoretical approach that follows after philosophical lines of enquiry including studies in phenomenology, theology and hermeneutics. His work examines the ideological and subjective conditions under which the meaning and experience of objects or situations arise from the productive imagination. MacKisack’s presentations take the form of various media. He combines field recordings with sculptural or symbolic objects, video installations and performative writing.

Recent exhibitions include Five Years Gallery, London; Irish Museum of Contemporary Art, Dublin; 12 Stapleton Rd, London; Crosstalk Video Art Festival, Budapest, Hungary; Projections at Bacon Street Project, London; Whitechapel Gallery, London; and the 3rd Digital Art Festival, Rosario, Argentina. MacKisack graduated from the University of Oxford, Somerville College with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Language in 2001, and he is currently a doctoral researcher in Visual Arts at Goldsmiths College, London.



Born 1981, Singapore, lives and works in London

Eliza Tan is a London-based contemporary art curator, cultural writer and critic from Singapore. A regular correspondent for Ctrl+P Journal of Contemporary Art and member of the Association of International Art Critics, her writing has also appeared in broadsheets including the Singapore Biennale Review and Art Asia Pacific. She has also worked variously on projects with the Singapore Arts Council, ArtForum Berlin, Solomon R. Guggenheim’s Asian Art Initiative, New York and Stanley Picker Gallery, London.

Tan received her Master’s degree in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London with a distinction for her dissertation. Her Bachelor’s degree in English and History of Art was received from York University.