Virlani Rupini and Leon Tan, 2014

Virlani Rupini and Dr Leon Tan: Receding Triangular Square, 2012. © Rupini and Tan


Receding Triangular Square (RTS) is the result of an interdisciplinary collaboration between the artist and filmmaker Virlani Rupini and the art critic and psychotherapist Leon Tan. Commissioned originally for the Taipei Biennale 2012, the project used the mediums of conversation and moving- image to ’analyze’ colonization and decolonization, psychosocial trauma and repression, and potentials for constructing new assemblages of enunciation in Taiwan (Republic of China).

Through an unsettling arrangement of sound, voice and moving images derived from on location interviews and footage as well as archival material, the single-channel video installation invites audiences to explore Chinese and Aboriginal (indigenous Taiwanese) philosophies and practices of healing as well as the dominant (’official’) Euro- American mental health paradigm, and to relate these to the larger social and historical framework of Taiwan’s development as a modern and post- colonial state. RTS relays fragmented blocs of sensation, sense-knowledge, in uneasy relations to each other. In so doing, it mirrors or relays fault-lines in Taiwan as a nation-assemblage, at the same time provoking the imagination of possibilities for new and more life affirming subjectivities, not only in Taiwan, where it was shot, but also wherever Rupini and Tan exhibit the work and extend it through conversations with different audiences and cultures.

In addition to the installation, Rupini and Tan have developed the public walks workshop as a means of exploring connections between different local histories, spaces and actors, in relation to the broad research themes of RTS. The first edition was introduced in Manila (Philippines) in 2013. The second edition is planned for Malmö in 2014. Given that the walks in Malmö will take place directly after the Swedish General Election, Rupini and Tan intend to explore issues of ’race,’ (a concept which, apparently, should be removed from Swedish legislation) discrimination and power in Sweden, and to relate these issues to Sweden’s international relations. Participants will be identified from the Skåne region, for example, a representative of the Arbetarröreslens Arkiv i Skåne (The Labour Movement’s Archives and Library), and invited to participate in the run up to the event.

Rupini and Tan are particularly interested in local views on current socio- political issues, for example, immigration and the rise of Sverige Demokraterna (the Sweden Democrats). The public walks effectively map the outlines of Sweden as a transnational assemblage, made up of global flows of people and capital, and changing relations between ’East’ and ’West’ as these change with the movements of colonisation and decolonisation. Participants are given the option of being recorded or not during the conversations.

Virlani Rupini

(MFA) is a video artist based in Berlin and partly Stockholm. Her artistic research focus on the visibility as an inter-subjective and political structure, where aesthetics always already form a bridge between the individual and society, and where thus the individual and its psyche can rejoin its communal roots. In 2012-2013 she participated in the Taipei Biennial, Cinelux in Genève, the 58th International Kurtzfilmtage in Oberhausen, Germany, the Berlinale Film Festival, Germany, a group show at Galerie Zimmermann Kratochwill, Graz, Austria, and several solo shows at international art institutions such as Galleri Riis in Stockholm, at the project space Et al. in collaboration with Asian Contemporary Arts Consortium, San Francisco, USA, and at 1335MABINI, Manila, Philippines. Upcoming activities include a group show at KHOJ International Artists’ Association in New Delhi and a solo presentation at RISD Museum, Rhode Island, USA.

Leon Tan

(PhD) is an arts and culture consultant, educator and psychotherapist. He researches public art, contemporary art, museums, globalization, digital culture, social activism and mental health, and has published in periodicals including The International Journal of Cultural Studies, CTheory, Theory, Culture and Society and Public Art Review, as well as books such as Deleuze and the Schizoanalysis of Visual Art. He is a senior lecturer at Unitec’s Department of Design and Contemporary Arts in Auckland, a consultant at the Institute for Public Art (Hong Kong), and a member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA).