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Ivan Cheng focuses within his practice on misunderstanding, abrasion and desire in the act of reading, often gesturing towards systems of power and reproduction. He holds an MFA in Critical Studies (Sandberg Instituut), having previously studied at the Royal Academy of Music and Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Text-based performances have been commissioned or presented in various institutions and spaces, including Oude Kerk (Amsterdam), Nacionalinė dailės galerija (Vilnius), Carriageworks (Sydney), Federation Square (Melbourne), Belvedere 21 (Vienna), MuHKA (Antwerp), Beursschouwburg (Brussels), SMC/CAC (Vilnius), Frans Hals Museum (Haarlem), EYE Filmmuseum (Amsterdam), Campbelltown Arts Centre (Sydney), Turner Gallery (Tokyo), Grace (Athens), Kantine (Brussels), De Appel (Amsterdam), Unsound Festival (Krakow), Saint-Etienne Design Biennial, Kunstmuseum Bonn and Q18 (Köln). He also works as a performer, clarinettist, curator and writer. Since 2015, he has worked in a curatorial capacity at The Watermill Center alongside Noah Khoshbin and Robert Wilson, and since 2017 bologna.cc in Amsterdam.
My work is largely seen as context specific, performative situations, driven by transactions and relations with hosts and collaborators. The visible and invisible infrastructures that distribute what could be phrased as deconstructed gesamtkunstwerk are reflected in its content, with my variously trained and historied performing body positioned at its centre. I have long been interested in the idea of 'bad reading'. The identities of other performers and non-performers in the work are embedded through rehearsal, dialogue and entrustment. The produced work is largely ephemeral and held by gossip and interaction.
The process of making the work through studio practice or conducting workshops manifests in performance, painted and embroidered textiles, installation, publications, sound, and video, and can often include invitations to display or incorporate other artists within the work.
My practice enacts a persistence of invitation to read, read for, and read with - questioning presence, virtuosity, time, repetition; staging the avatar as mask. The written texts play with modes of authenticity and transgression of self and society, and use this to articulate research on systems of power and reproduction.
Acknowledgement of access and ownership, and engendering a questioning audience while focusing on generosity towards them is urgent. My work is interested in offering a toolkit for reading situations, which includes a distrust of the toolkit.