Kai Tan

London-based artist,
curator and

Dr Kai Syng Tan FRSA SFHEA is a London-based artist, curator and shapeshifter. She mobilises the body and mind in (com)motion as a mode of interrogation/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 gather diverse and distinct bodies (and bodies of knowledge) together to engineer spaces of ‘productive antagonisms’ (Latham and Tan 2016). In other words, instead of solving problems or resolving differences, this is about catalysing new insights and new questions. Restless, shifty, and exuberant, Kai’s approach is turbocharged by her ADHD, dyspraxia and dyslexia. Her work is praised for its ‘eclectic style and cheeky attitude’ (Sydney Morning Herald), ‘positive atmosphere’ (Guardian 2014) and ‘radical interdisciplinarity’ (UCL Geographer Professor Alan Latham). Kai’s work have appeared in 600 platforms. They include Biennale of Sydney and Tokyo Fashion Week at the Royal Geographical Society and MOMA New York. Collections include the Museum of London and Fukuoka Art Museum. Her PhD conducted at the UCL Slade School of Fine Art explored running as an arts and humanities discourse and her curated RUN! RUN! RUN! Biennale was featured on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking. She is a UKRI and AHRC Peer Review College member, UK Adult AADHD Network Research Committee Member and advisor for PsychART (funded by Royal College of Psychiatrists). She has taught/examined at Goldsmith’s, Royal College of Arts, Australian National University, Tokyo Film College and SIM University

Magic Carpet. Disegna la tua mente
I Run and Run, Let Out an Earth Shattering Roar, and Turn into a Giant Octopussy and Other Tales of Unreasonable Adjustments.

Throw autobiography, academic hypotheses, and standup comedy, and you get Dr Kai Syng Tan’s performance-lecture. With a densely-collaged slideshow, the artist runs through the adjustments that she has made to fit the neurotypical world. Along the way, she flits through issues like struggling in a hot-house educational environment without knowing anything about her dyslexia and Attention Deficit Hyperacivity Disorder, about her the triple invisibility of neuro-divergent BAME women and how this is a hidden problem/resource, and about her compulsion to live life on the run. Unreasonable Adjustments invites us to talk about (and talk about how we talk about) and understand disability, difference and diversity.
This version of Unreasonable Adjustments has been developed from previous editions, including at the Southbank Centre in London as part of Unlimited Festival and the 5th European Network Hyperkinetic Disorders (EUNETHYDIS) at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, for 500 psychiatrists and researchers. Unreasonable Adjustment is an output of #MagicCarpet. This was a 15-month Unlimited commission funded by Arts Council England and supported by King’s College London.

Kai is mentored by Professor of Psychiatry Philip Asherson, and #MagicCarpet is their public conversation on mind wandering, how it relates to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and the creative process, and how this contributes to and/or challenges existing discourses on ‘(ab)normality’. The ‘magic’ in #MagicCarpet is how it opens up a visual, conceptual and creative space for scientists and artists, psychiatrists and service users, to chat about their mind, brain, body and being, and to consider how we relate to others who think differently and/or are different. #MagicCarpet has taken part in 31 exhibitions, workshops and conferences. This includes NESTA’s The Future of People Powered Health for 500 health policy professionals, as well as the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience’s Arts in Mind Festival, which was covered in The Psychologist, Resonance FM and South London Press. In 2018 it was awarded the National Coordination Centre for Public Engagement NCCPE Images Competition Award for ’Culture Change’.