Multiplicities in Flux
Multiplicities in Flux brings together works by Grace Lau and Eelyn Lee in a dialogue around identity and belonging in Britain. Lau’s series of portraits 21st Century Types (2005) reflects the multiplicity of contemporary British society and comments on the othering of Chinese people and culture through photography, while Lee’s film Britishness (2019) investigates the often indefinable notion of ‘Britishness’.
About this exhibition
Multiplicities in Flux brings together works by Grace Lau and Eelyn Lee in a dialogue around identity, belonging, nationality and community in Britain. In a globalised and hyper-connected postcolonial society, identities frequently transcend the boundaries of one nation-state to become transnational or transcultural.
Lau’s series of portraits 21st Century Types (2005) reflects the multiplicity of contemporary British society and comments on the Imperialist othering of ‘exotic’ Chinese people and culture. Lau constructed an opulent hybrid Chinese/English portrait studio in Hastings and over six weeks photographed hundreds of passers-by. The resulting images are a monument to place, race, people and the passing of time. The series also acts as a direct statement on the use of photography as unconscious bias, examining the politics of cultural representation and visual ‘archives’ through the genre of contemporary portraiture.
Lee’s film Britishness (2019), 57 min, complicates the often indefinable notion of ‘Britishness’. Comprising spoken word poetry, interviews, and group discussions, the work follows young writers from Sheffield as they affirm, reject, and revise their visions of national identity and grapple with the consequences of Britain’s colonial history and their own personal experiences. The film posits ‘Britishness’ as a concept that is constantly in flux, moulded by ever-changing social, economic, political and historical narratives and carrying different significance for each individual. Through this lens, Lee invites viewers to question and re-evaluate their own definition of what it means to be British.
Featured image: Eelyn Lee, Britishness (2019). Image courtesy of the artist.