Donna Louisa Han

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Donna Louisa Han, UK

2011 VoxHumana,Oxford,UK
        Alcohol ceremony,Modern Art Oxford, UK
        Living memories, Oxford, UK
        Blood Memories
        Welcome Trust Project, London, UK
2010 CabaretMelancholic,London,UK
        Vox Humana, Oxford, UK
        Living memories, Oxford, UK
2009 Cabaret Melancholic, London, UK
        Hoss, Oxford, UK
        Ruskin Degree Show, Oxford, UK
        Jacqueline Du Pre Music Rooms, Oxford, UK
        Dolphin Gallery, Oxford, UK
        The Long Room, Oxford, UK

Other activities
2011 Consultant, invitation to work with Chinese Arts Association
2010 Consultant, developing website for Russian auction house in London
2009 Exhibition Manager, Ruskin Degree Show

In 2009 I had three major solo shows.
That year I managed and exhibited in the Ruskin Degree show.
I also took part in two live performances with Professor Brian Catling –
artist and Head of Oxford University’s Fine Art Department,
Between 2010 and 2011 I was selected to take part in an event at Modern Art Oxford
where I did a solo performance. I was also invited to perform at a live event in London.
I began working on a new body of work related to my study of physicality, presence
and energy. I have initiated four long-term projects that I am working on at the moment.

These are as follows:

Living Memories Is a documentary project in collaboration with the Director of the Oxford University Media Department. We are in the process of interviewing members of the older generation and recording their memories and stories. This material will be used at a later date as part of an installation.

Welcome Trust is an art and science research project that I am developing with an Academic Psychiatrist at Imperial College London and a biochemist at Oxford. This project examines how memory is stored in physical materials.

Vox Humana is a collaboration with a composer and pianist. We have been exploring film images of intimacy and foreignness as discussed in my BFA thesis. The final artwork will be a media and sound piece installation based on religious icons. This project is near completion.

Blood Memories is a written work that examines the possibility of transferring memory from one physical material to another.

2008 RadcliffeHospitalTrust,commission,Oxford,UK
        Project Manager, collaboration with internationally renowned artists Janet Cardiff/
        George Bures - Miller
        The National Gallery, workshop tutor assisting Dr Sarah Simblet
2007 Geoffrey Rhoades Prize for high academic achievement
        Lady Margaret Hall academic achievement scholarship
        University of Oxford, commission, Oxford, UK

2007 Rome residency, chosen to represent the UK at regional contemporary art exhibition

A Critique of Donna Han
Michael Archer(Critic and Writer for the Guardian )

I recall having to get down on my knees in order to crawl into a low shelter. Although the structure was lovingly constructed, it was nonetheless provisional, having been assembled from a number of the signs estate agents use to advertise that a house is for sale. It was a place of rest and repose fashioned from the evidence of moving and removal. Once inside I was warm and comfortable, not least because Donna Han was already in there too, ready to prepare and serve me a cup of tea. As I drank, I reflected upon whether the appeal of the invitation to socialise outweighed the requirement to abase myself. And I came to no definite conclusion – or, rather, I came to the conclusion that I could not come to any conclusion, because these opposing feelings of subjugation and conjugation were both essential to the experiencing of the work. Behind the pleasantness and generosity of that common domestic ritual was a hard insistence on the realities of those relations of power we negotiate every day. Likewise, beyond the risks that inevitably come with showing one’s vulnerability lay the benefit of open engagement with another human being.

We can also see the importance of the double-edged nature of interpersonal relations in Han’s sculpture, especially in her use of balance and mutual support between elements. She chooses the word ‘contraposto’ to describe this preference for achieving a delicate state of equilibrium. With its reference to muscle groups holding the body’s parts in a kind of relaxed tension it is a term which roots our experience of the work firmly within the body. Intellectual pleasure aside, it is as much as anything how these works feel, how they both seduce and threaten at one and the same time, that matters. If the idea of ritual suggests itself easily, it is above all the sense of a familiar action executed not mindlessly, but with poise and reflection that is meant here. In a context such as this, where the habitual is understood to possess a philosophical dimension, objects become energised through the role they play in the dramas of existence. They present themselves in relation to the body, whether this be in the way they are handled and used, or the manner in which we decide to look at, stand and move around and within them.

Various of Han’s structures have taken the form of a shelter. In her latest work the articulation of a sense of enclosure has been brought down to a more intimate scale. Rather than thinking in terms of a dwelling – a house or at least a hut – these new pieces speak to the individual. The mask, wig, vest and the suit of armour clothe and cover the body, concealing and protecting it while presenting an illusory face to the world around. A mask of hair, a mask of string, a vest of phone covers – all so inextricably of and for the body, the head, the ear, the mouth, and the hand. Made from Korean paper, the suit of armour is redolent of the dressmaker’s pattern, a template for the real thing. Aggression and sensuality intermingle in this construction that is both personal carapace and carrier of authoritative, perhaps even nationalistic power. How do we situate ourselves either within or adjacent to such a thing, to its image and its material substance, to its historical and cultural character? What is the nature of that face that we might present to the world in respect of it? What are we hiding, what are we afraid of and what do we love?