Opening at Galleri Skomarkeriet in May: Anna Ting Möller's solo exhibition Raw Pearl (Jam)
Where are You from? Where are You really from? This common perversion in conversational modus, often between strangers, establishing a hierarchical order in a social rapport, where one party entitles themselves to an inquiry which implicates the deviation from a “standard” by the other, calls for a pause to think. It’s largely esoteric in so far to really know how invasive this is, considering a society that holds personal integrity and privacy as virtues, you would have to be the frequent subject yourself of such expected private revelations. Perhaps the Gordian knot is best cut by addressing very clearly what is at fault; Being exotified as different and “other” and socially forced on someone else’s whim – not your own – to wear your history on the sleeve. Arguably this is even more skewed for individuals who just like the artist was adopted and spent years navigating between stock narratives, projected on to them about what that should mean to them and their own rationalizing and discoveries about what forms their identity and how to relate and vocalize it as an adult.
This recalls the first encounter and entry into Anna Ting Möller's artistic practice offered to the public through their degree show at Konstfack in Stockholm. Being a graduate of Textile Art, there was nothing blatantly textile about it. In fact it was near impossible without prior insights about Anna Ting Möller to place their work within the classification system of said institution. As a gladiatorial disruption of Pantone colour schemes, found in the room by way of largely pop-oriented presentations, was a bamboo-structured bath confining what appeared to be draped and patchworked live flesh. The smell, ultimately of vinegar, was unapologetically pungent and confusion as to what the less than palatable material on view was seemed shared equally by most. It would appear to derive from fermented Chinese Kombucha tea where bacteria and microorganisms give rise to a membrane with skin-like aesthetical and textural qualities. The lengthy and fraught process in which the artist is the catalyst and parental nurturer has come to serve as a personal allegory for the notion of adoption and is often the case with their artworks, various components in the actual process, execution and visual identity are charged with symbolic and narrational significance about the body and identity. The degree presentation was a provocation where rightfully due amid a largely white academic environment with all its inherent biases. What statement the artist was making was anyone’s guess but there were leads, beginning at the discrepancy between their Swedish resonating name and the Chinese allusions of the project itself. It’s often said that “ethnic” artists are molded into a position of making art about their identity but using her art as a vehicle for personal exploration (and by extension universal exploration) is something the artist has chosen and pursued themselves, following travels to their native China.
In the upcoming exhibition at Skomakeriet, Anna Ting Möller sets forth various thoughts from their mind about physical power relations of the body where identity is concerned; about freedoms and restrainments. It extends to how desire and fetishization of a body precariously can correlate staunchly with mere identity, while subsequent lecherous acts can occur without necessarily omitting any genuine pleasure or sincerity in action. In question is as well how control over a body, both tangibly and imperceptibly with effect, is appropriated and the body sometimes forcefully subordinated in civil society at the behest of the politicization of the body and its identity. In the realm of the senses, a fine thin line is often traced between opposites; of empowerment and oppression, pleasure and pain, beauty and disgust, intimate and public and so forth. The metaphorical centerpiece of the exhibition, the blatantly BDSM-connoted Raw Pearl (Jam) presents as a projection and materialization that intersect all these thoughts for the artist. As such a body hanging down from the ceiling bound with sisal rope using Japanese Shibari binding technique is meant to confront the viewer about social and aesthetical orders. The infliction is real. The boundaries are not.