LONDON.- Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts)
and Stuart Hall Foundation are presenting On the Desert Island, an interactive audio site-specific work by artist Ting-Ting Cheng which is being presented in Inivas Stuart Hall Library (1 June - 1 December 2017).
Offering a unique way to explore Inivas remarkable collection, On the Desert Island takes its cue from Professor Stuart Hall speaking to Sue Lawley on BBC Radio 4s Desert Island Discs in February 2000. On the long-running radio show, the presenter asks the guest to punctuate their conversation with eight records they would choose to take with them if they were cast away on a desert island.
Ting-Ting Cheng draws on the recording of Professor Stuart Halls interview to create an audio guide which imagines the Stuart Hall Library as islands with its bookshelves and contents as land mass to be negotiated. Using the librarys categorisation system that places exhibition catalogues according to their geographical location, the artists tour encourages the listener to wander between Great Britain and Jamaica as if they were part of an archipelago. On this physical journey they will follow Professor Stuart Halls conversation about identity and diversity 17 years ago in the context of Britain today. Revisiting Professor Stuart Halls commentary On the Desert Island casts a curious light on todays political, social and cultural realities where issues of sovereignty and the rise of uncontained xenophobia are as prophetic as he imagined:
Britain is facing these two possibilities as alternative futures and I want the British to consciously move towards a more cosmopolitan idea of themselves. --Professor Stuart Hall, Desert Island Discs, February 2000.
Speaking about On the Desert Island, Melanie Keen, Director of Iniva, said: Inivas Stuart Hall Library in east London, which houses our unique collection of books, catalogues and papers on contemporary visual arts from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the diasporas, sits at the very heart of our artistic programme. We are thrilled to present the outcome of the first ever Stuart Hall Library Artists Residency, a new strand in our ever growing programme which will further develop the role of our library as a repository of critical and creative exchange.
Ting-Ting Chengs On the Desert Island demonstrates a deep engagement with Professor Stuart Halls legacy. Seventeen years after his Desert Island Discs interview, we hear him, on his desert island, ruminate on Britain being at a historical turning point, dangerously on the verge of becoming a citadel. Or it could, he muses, more radically embrace the idea of mixture and newness which has been part of British history for centuries. Professor Stuart Halls insightful commentary couldnt be more relevant to the Britain we find ourselves in today.
Speaking about On the Desert Island, Maria Amidu, Stuart Hall Foundation Trustee said: On the Desert Island is a poignant and evocative work, which transported me to a location beyond the bounds of the walls of Stuart Hall Library towards a less tangible, more mutable space. Guided by the interplay of the narrators poetic and practical instructions, echoes of Stuarts distinctive voice, and the cadence of the music I be- came immersed in Ting-Ting Chengs quest committed to the search amongst the pages of the beautifully altered and annotated books. The subtlety and pace of this wayfinding is deceptive. What Ting-Ting Cheng has accomplished through this new work is an accessible route into the complex issues of place and identity in Britain and across the diaspora.
It is due to Ting-Ting Chengs enthusiasm and artistic rigour that On the Desert Island is a wonderful outcome to the inaugural Stuart Hall Library residency. It is an ideal start for the partnership between the Stuart Hall Foundation and Iniva, and both organisations are committed to continuing this exciting opportunity for culturally diverse visual artists.