Dr Kai Syng Tan FRSA SFHEA is an interdisciplinary artist, curator, researcher, shapeshifter and sightseer. She activates the body and mind in (com)motion as a mode of interrogation and intervention in a world in (com)motion. By extension, she considers her role as a connector, disrupter and ‘running-messenger’ who is ‘ill-disciplined’, situated within/between/across artistic/disciplinary/geopolitical boundaries to engineer spaces of ‘productive antagonisms’ (Latham and Tan 2016). Instead of solving problems or resolving differences, she aims to catalyse new insights and new questions.
Kai's work is known for its ‘eclectic style and cheeky attitude’ (Sydney Morning Herald), ‘positive atmosphere’ (Guardian 2014) and ‘radical interdisciplinarity’ (UCL Geographer Professor Alan Latham). Kai's installation, film, text and performances have appeared in 600 platforms including the Biennale of Sydney and Tokyo Fashion Week at MOMA (New York), Royal Geographical Society, ZKM, LADA Study Guide, Fuji TV, BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking and Times Higher Education. Recognition includes San Francisco International Film Festival Golden Gate Award, National Coordination Centre for Public Engagement 2018 Images Competition for 'Culture Change', and Artangle Open 100. Collections include the Museum of London and Fukuoka Art Museum. She completed her PhD at the Slade School of Fine Art as a UCL scholar, and has taught in the practice, history and theory of fine art, media art, film and art education in London, Australia, Singapore and Tokyo. As Director of RUN! RUN! RUN! International Body for Research and RUN! RUN! RUN! Biennale which explores running as an arts and humanities discourse, Kai's work is recognised as 'absolutely central' for developing the emerging field of 'Running Studies' (artist Professor Gregg Whelan) She is also UKRI and Arts and Humanities Research Council Peer Review College member, Advisor to PsychART, Research Committee Member of the UK Adult ADHD Network and Selection Panel Member for Unlimited, which commissions ambitious work by disabled artists, since 2017.
Kai is currently a Visiting Researcher and the first Artist-In-Residence at the world-leading Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London. Mentored by the eminent Professor of Psychiatry Philip Asherson, she is working on an Unlimited commission entitled #MagicCarpet funded by Arts Council England, KCL and others. The 1.5 year project weaves visual art and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) together to explore mind wandering and the boundaries between 'normality' and 'abnormality'. The multifaceted project includes workshops, and outputs include a publication, short films, badges, performances and a tapestry installation. #MagicCarpet has taken part in 15 exhibitions and workshops, 2 solo shows, 3 residences, 13 conferences/seminars/presentations, and appeared in 5 publications, 6 art catalogues and academic citations, and 26 media engagement and non-academic citation, as well as 6 films, including one at the invitation of Academy of Medical Sciences Fellow Professor Louise Arseneault and commissioned by ESRC on mental health. #MagicCarpet has toured South London Gallery (in collaboration with Art Assassins, a collective for people aged 15-20), Southbank Centre (for 700 viewers), Nesta’s People Powered Future Health (for 500 health policy people), UK Adult ADHD Network Congress 2017 (for 400 researchers and professionals), the Arts in Mind Festival (covered on Resonance FM and South London newspaper and The Psychologist Journal, and including a workshop with a primary school) as well as the 5th European Network for Hyperkinetic Disorder International Conference in Edinburgh (for 500 psychiatrists). Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive: ‘I have found my community’; ‘I felt safe and could be me’; 'the tapestry is beautiful because it screams for your attention'. At one event, 100% of the feedback agreed or strongly agreed to questions: ‘The event was useful to my research/professional development and/or interest’ and ‘This event has challenged my understanding of how artists and scientists work together, and/or my own body and mind and that of others that are different to mine’. ‘Thank you for bringing us all together’.