WRITER MAISIE SKIDMORE INTERVIEWS BOTH OF THE ARTISTS AND THE EXHIBITION’S CURATOR SHONAGH MARSHALL TO DISCUSS GLOBALIZATION, THE MELDING OF EAST AND WEST, AND SHIFTING THE NARRATIVE OF “OTHERNESS.”
“HANNA MOON & JOYCE NG: ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE” OPENS FRIDAY JANUARY 25TH AT SOMERSET HOUSE IN LONDON.
Now, their work – bold, playful, boundary-pushing photographs which incorporate fashion as a means to their conceptual end, rather than as a subject in and of itself – shares a common language. It has been hard-won, they explain; the demands placed on foreign students working in the UK, from the sheer cost of university fees (which are often as much as four times higher than for native students), to the prolific amount of work and finger-crossing required in order to secure a visa year after year, are a heavy weight. And yet, they’ve each succeeded in making a name for themselves within the new realms of fashion photography, shooting characterful and bold images that have been featured in publications from Re-Edition to Dazed.
In her own sphere, working at the intersection of fashion and photography to create exhibitions, curator Shonagh Marshall was familiar with both of their practices, and had visited Hong Kong with Joyce early in 2018 for an earlier project. She became fascinated by the small but powerful space their vision occupied within mainstream fashion media. "Hanna and Joyce are a clear product of globalization in our times,” she explains. “I was thinking about Asian students propping up, not only art schools, but Western universities. Did we assume our aesthetics would not therefore shift to include perspectives from that cultural background?”
“I WAS THINKING ABOUT ASIAN STUDENTS PROPPING UP, NOT ONLY ART SCHOOLS, BUT WESTERN UNIVERSITIES. DID WE ASSUME OUR AESTHETICS WOULD NOT THEREFORE SHIFT TO INCLUDE PERSPECTIVES FROM THAT CULTURAL BACKGROUND?”
"SHE DEPICTS THE FEMALE, BUT THEY ARE VERY MUCH MIRRORS OF HERSELF, SO THERE IS THIS BACK-AND-FORTH EXCHANGE BETWEEN HANNA AND HER SITTER."