Jack Ky Tan

Jack Ky Tan (b.Singapore) is a UK-based interdisciplinary artist. Working across, performance, sculpture, law and policy-making, his practice is an ongoing exploration of social justice that blurs the boundaries between, art, law, governance, and consultancy. Looking toward alternative cosmologies and knowledge systems predating Judaeo-Christian or colonial narratives, Tan interrogates the legacies of empire with a particular interest in Commonwealth and Tropical epistemologies of resistance. By questioning how embedded societal structures form our laws and guide our behaviour, Tan’s work attempts to rethink our entanglement with the human and more-than-human world, and looks towards alternative ways of living and working. [100 words]

Tan originally studied and trained in law [LL.B (Hull), MA Social Justice & Education (UCL IOE)] and worked in British civil rights NGOs before obtaining a BA(Hons) in Ceramics at Harrow/Westminster University and an MA at the Royal College of Art. Jack then completed a practice-led PhD at Roehampton University where he explored legal aesthetics and performance art through his works Karaoke Court and Voices From The Courts. He has taught MA Sculpture at the Royal College of Art and MA Politics & Art at Goldsmiths. [86 words]

Please tell us about yourself

I am an artist working in ceramics, performance installation, law and policy-making. I am particularly interested in legal aesthetics. By this, I mean how humans order and regulate things, and what the effect and affect of this is. Currently, I am researching legacies of the Colonial Asian Middle, developing Daoist approaches to governance, exploring organisational change as curatorial practice, and policy-writing as poetics.

What was your journey into the arts?

I originally graduated law school and after a few years doing anti-racist civil rights work, I trained to become a solicitor. But fortunately or unfortunately, I had started going to pottery evening classes.

Just for fun one day I decided to attend an open day at the old Harrow Art School. One thing led to another and I left the law and was on a Ceramics BA as a mature student.

I went to the RCA after that, taught sculpture on a few courses around the country and also completed a practice-based PhD in law and performance art.

What inspires you?

People who work behind the scenes, working from the ground up, who make long lasting change for social justice inspire me.

Why should people join CVAN London?

CVAN London is a great place to find out what is happening to our sector and also to make change at a sector-wide level.

Why do we need the AREVA Writers Room now?

We need to find new language for ourselves so that we can speak our values into ourselves through our own words.

A favourite art moment in London:

THESE ASSOCIATIONS by Tino Sehgal at the Turbine Hall in 2012 is one of my favourite moments in London. It was a perfect installation of performance, play, voice and choreography that immersed and captivated me. 


Where can people find out more about you?

My website. 

Tan, Jack Ky. 'Art School Surgery' part of How To Do Things With Rules solo exhibition, 2016. ICA Singapore