The banner shows examples of museums, galleries, companies, universities and more, in Tokyo, Sydney, UK, Singapore and elsewhere that I have worked with. The following are some of their feedback.
ON A 2021 PROPOSED PROJECT TO THEORISE ‘NEURODIVERGENT LEADERSHIP’
The proposal is ‘highly ambitious’, ‘amongst the most interesting I have ever been asked to review’, displaying a ‘deep commitment from the applicant to develop her own leadership of the emerging field of Neurodivergent Leadership’. It is a ‘timely and hugely important project, demonstrating a very high degree of originality’ and will be a ‘timely focus for investment’ and ‘send a strong signal about this agenda being important to [the research council], and to this area of the creative sector too’. The programme ias a ‘brilliant and fascinating blend of activities’ pioneering ‘ground clearing’ work’, given ‘the real lack of work in this area’ and ‘real dearth of academic engagement on issues of neurodivergence in the creative sector (whether at universities or creative industries)’.
As a ‘new area to embrace a vast array of diverse politics, practices and crises including anti-colonialism, queer and anti-racist responses that have come to the fore especially during the pandemic’, ‘attention to these intersections provides a rich context but also means the frame itself is profoundly elastic and all-encompassing’. My project will create ‘opportunities for policy and creative practice organisations to reflect on their, and their organisations’ practices’; inventing a ‘multi-faceted definition of leadership (in disciplinary and interdisciplinary terms, and within a framework of EDI’ that is ‘well placed to play a role in developing a fast emerging area of research on neurodiversity and its relationship to leadership and creativity’, ‘embracing different ways of conceiving of leadership in a discourse that is genuinely not limited to one discipline or one creative approach, promising to ‘help transform thinking for her participants’. The project employs creative methods in ways that are intended to be challenging brings with it risks but the applicant demonstrates an awareness of these methods and has employed them previously in her established career within and beyond the academy’. I have a ‘strong track-record in arts-based engagement having worked with a range of creative partners on numerous publicly funded projects in the past’, and am already recognised as ‘one of the few who has written and provided resources on this subject; I’ve used them in my own work and in my teaching, where my research assistants and MSc students have struggled to find any detailed research engagement beyond industry reports’. — Feedback by Peer Reviewers of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (anonymised), Autumn 2021
LEADERSHIP & INNOVATION
‘I was particularly excited to see Ghanaian students specifically and African (Diaspora) and students generally, participating actively in the event and celebrating their ancestors and promoting “blackness”. This made me so proud to be an African at this particular era. The resources would be particularly useful for my teaching and especially for its historic contents and great Pan African thinkers’ – Irene Appeaning Addo (Senior Research Fellow Institute of African Studies University of Ghana, Legon, of the Pan African Congress 75 Anniversary Celebrations, 2020
‘Kai has been instrumental in the UK and lots of other contexts in pulling together all sorts of writers, artists, academics and performance-makers to come together and to start to form what might become to be called ‘Running Studies’. Kai has been absolutely central in this. She introduced me to a whole lot of people.’ — Artist Professor Gregg Whelan. Curator. ANTI Festival. Kuopio, Finland. 2015
‘This is challenging and thought provoking, and a really effective way of conveying the positively disruptive energy that engagement can release’. ‘The title was excellent, and captured the spirit of culture change: an animated group challenging established ways of framing disability, challenging the old with the new, taking risks. The clever and provocative construction extended to the caption, which captured vividly what it feels like to be caught up in the thrill of creating new knowledge which challenges and changes the world’. – Judges’ comments for winning photo montage at NCCPE 2018 Public Engagement Images award
‘But it is the artist, curator, and researcher Kai Syng Tan who has done the most in seeking to develop an interdisciplinary discourse around running art and performance. […] Tan’s work has encouraged conversations and connections across disciplines and it is in this context of a nascent interdisciplinary discourse on running that I think the concept of gesture offers an important means of understanding what running does, and what is at stake, when bodies run as art’. – Dr Andrew Filmer, journal article in Contemporary Theatre Review (Routledge) 2020
‘Dr Tan’s PhD thesis was an exceptional piece of work; […]. What was most impressive about the dissertation was the ease and lucidity with which the dissertation moved between popular culture, literatures from a diverse range of academic disciplines, and the world of fine art. In my own research I have been exploring the relationship between urban environment and practices of physical fitness. Examining Dr Tan’s PhD suggested a whole range of productive new ways of thinking about these relationships; it’s a really high quality dissertation that does that. […] Collaborating with Dr Tan has been an intellectually energising experience. In all sorts of ways it has challenged me to rethink how I go about doing my research. And it has informed much of my recent work. […] Among the many impressive dimensions of the proposal is the centrality it gives to public engagement, along with its radical interdisciplinarity. Dr Tan has extensive experience configuring such interdisciplinary dialogues […] Dr Tan will produce research that is intellectually challenging, radically interdisciplinary and important.’ — UCL geographer Professor Alan Latham on my PhD thesis, 2014, which has been downloaded more than 4000 times
‘Loved it. Bold brash and radical!! Love it. Congrats its a super radical piece of subversive TV! Love it!! Congrats on what I think it a fun, provocative and important piece!’ – Dr Atif Mohammed, Director, Producer, on film How to Thrive in 2050 (2021).
‘Such a breath of fresh air’, ‘an eye opener’, ‘incredibly interesting perspective’, ‘Kai bubbles over with wonderful enthusiasm.’ – Feedback for keynote for Association of Dyslexia Specialists in HE 20th Anniversary Conference (2021).
‘Kai […] is very exciting to work with. She contributed to both local and national training with health care professionals and researchers. […] She has integrated extremely well into our scientific community becoming a key member of our research team, sharing and developing ideas, and making important contributions to the dissemination of science to the public. — Prof Philip Asherson. 2017.
‘The writing in these chapters is consistently focused, clever, and often quite provoking. The chapters act both as kind of context (of the why, and the how) for the video performances, and an extension or continuation of them. By this I mean they carry the playfulness, disruptiveness, and rhythm of the video performances into the main text. Overall I thought the dissertation and the various performances described within it were impressive. They all weave together a provocative mix of text, image and kinetic sense, which are both enjoyable and thought provoking’. – UCL geographer Professor Alan Latham on my PhD thesis
‘Tan Kai Syng is one of the most prolific young artists of Singapore. Well-versed in video, sound & electronic media, she has created wide ranging works bordering between discourse and personal reflection. Her works often reveal her sardonic humour but also a sharp intelligence which makes her a self reflexive, incisive artist of South East Asia now. […] Being a versatile straddler between academician & practising artist demonstrates her agility in moving between different fields of knowledge & diverse disciplines. She has a wryness which stands her in good stead […] she is a very talented interdisciplinary artist […]. She moves restlessly from one medium to another which is part of the joy of her work. She has proven herself to be immensely attractive to students who follow her classes with avid involvement, she can be an amazing source of inspiration’. – Singapore International Festival of Arts Director Keng Sen Ong, 2009.
‘[…] she’s one of Asia’s most talented and promising artists […] It is our honor to host not only a talented artist but also a great scholar. The importance of Kai for this program is tremendous […] she’s the brain behind [the South East Asian Cinema Program] and the main player in it.’ – Dr Erez Pery. Director, Cinema South International Film Festival 2008.
‘Singaporean artist Kai Syng Tan [is] known for her eclectic style and cheeky attitude to the art world […].’ — Tracey Clement. Cover story, Sydney Herald Tribune. 2006.
‘Kai has a global / international vision in art production and education, and I am certain that her collaborators including myself have all had a valuable experience while working with her. She was always able to overcome all technical problems and provide on time a highly professional outcome.’ – Composer Professor Christophe Charles, Tokyo, Japan. 2009.
‘The room Tan Kai Syng devised for the exhibition ‘Politics of Fun’ in the House of World Cultures is overwhelming. […] She rejoices in communication, and her guises are protean. Within a brief conversation she is the humorous cynic, the attentive listener and so on and so forth. Whether she is gathering, making or showing things, she is wholly engrossed’. — Susanne Messmer. ‘The Manic Collector’. culturebase.net. Germany. 2005.
‘Tan has established herself as one of the foremost video artists in Singapore, engaging with the medium in interesting and often innovative ways’. — Dr Eugene Tan. 2007. Contemporary Art In Singapore. Eds Nadarajan G, Storer, R. & Tan, E. Institute of Contemporary Arts. Singapore. 142.
‘She has the unusual distinction of being highly creative, intellectually able and positively self disciplined. […] I believe that she will contribute to the educational needs of students in terms of practice, and equally in theory. She is also an accomplished writer and is poised to establish herself professionally as a practicing video and filmmaker. In education her pedagogic and communicative skills and devotion to the notion of scholarship will also be significant.’ – Performance artist Stuart Brisley. 1998.
‘Kai Syng Tan confronts her new social surrounding with the strategy of a research in progress that is an unusual mix of critical engagement, intellectual references and not to forget a very, very special way of engaging humour.’ — Johan Pijnappel. Biennale of Sydney (catalogue). 268-269. 2006.
‘Kai is unusually perceptive.’ – Artist. Bruce Mclean. 1994.
‘Kai is a media artist to look out for’ – Johan Pijannapel. Art It. 2005. Japan.
‘Tan Kai Syng’s two TV screen pieces stood out easily as the exhibition’s most potent and engaging; both works a credit to the medium. […] Tan’s TV work offers spare, elegant visuals that […], bring the viewer into the piece’s hauntingly lyrical, abstracted narrative. […] [It] shows an artistic mastery uncommon in a medium where technical competence is more frequent than aesthetic intelligence.’ — Iola Lenzi. 2003. ‘President’s Young Talents’. The Arts Magazine. Singapore.
Peer reviewers on my proposal for a leadership fellowship scheme to theorise ‘Neurodivergent Leadership’: This will be a ‘new area to embrace a vast array of diverse politics, practices and crises including anti-colonialism, queer and anti-racist responses that have come to the fore especially during the pandemic’; ‘attention to these intersections provides a rich context but also means the frame itself is profoundly elastic and all-encompassing’; ‘Highly ambitious’; ‘amongst the most interesting I have ever been asked to review’; ‘deep commitment from the applicant to develop her own leadership of the emerging field of Neurodivergent Leadership through employing her long-established expertise in using creative research as a form of critical co-creation of knowledge that challenges dominant frameworks and ways of knowing’; ‘clearly passionate about the research and its significance at this historical juncture’; ‘compelling and highly original proposal leading to quality research with outstanding potential for impact led by an outstanding candidate, the project has real potential to change practice and disciplinary perspectives within the creative arts’; ‘aim is clearly to be transformative not only in academic research but in the wider world of leadership’; ‘brilliant and fascinating blend of activities’ pioneering ‘ground clearing’ work’, given ‘the real lack of work in this area’, ‘an area that is in desperate need of a research project’ and the ‘real dearth of academic engagement on issues of neurodivergence in the creative sector (whether at universities or creative industries)’; ‘timely and hugely important project, demonstrating a very high degree of originality’; ‘timely focus for investment’ which will ‘send a strong signal about this agenda being important to [the research council], and to this area of the creative sector too’. My project will create ‘opportunities for policy and creative practice organisations to reflect on their, and their organisations’ practices’; inventing a ‘multi-faceted definition of leadership (in disciplinary and interdisciplinary terms, and within a framework of EDI’ that is ‘well placed to play a role in developing a fast emerging area of research on neurodiversity and its relationship to leadership and creativity’; ‘embracing different ways of conceiving of leadership in a discourse that is genuinely not limited to one discipline or one creative approach, promising to ‘help transform thinking for her participants’; employing creative methods in ways that are intended to be challenging brings with it risks but the applicant demonstrates an awareness of these methods and has employed them previously in her established career within and beyond the academy’; I am recognised as ‘one of the few who has written and provided resources on this subject; I’ve used them in my own work and in my teaching, where my research assistants and MSc students have struggled to find any detailed research engagement beyond industry reports’; ‘strong track-record in arts-based engagement having worked with a range of creative partners on numerous publicly funded projects in the past’; ‘highly established in the use of creative research methods as a route to working across disciplines and beyond the confines of the academy’. — Peer Reviewers, Summer 2021
8th ASEAN PARA GAMES CEREMONIES
‘… a spectacular ceremony.’ — Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong. 2015.
‘Your team have been most open-minded, thoughtful and accommodating to our suggestions and inputs in making the event a truly accessible one for our community. With “live’’ captioning has been offered for such a big event and at a national level for the first time, the ASEAN Para Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies mark a giant step towards an inclusive Singaporean society.’ — Alvan Yap. Singapore Association for the Deaf. 2015.
‘Congratulations for the picture-perfect Opening Ceremony. I believe the wonderful extraordinary experience will be engraved in the mind and heart for the rest of their lives. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to be part of this once in a life time journey and do let me affirm that your hard work and creative mind had captured the heart of the audience yesterday. You’ve created exceptional work in letting the status of our students with disabilities and let them soar to greater heights in an international platform. Kudos to your team!’ — Vice-Principal Anuwar Abdul Wahab. Metta School. 2015.
‘Your interview was one of the most impressive – and most brave – I’ve ever encountered’. – Panel member of an interview.
‘As expected, Kai brought imagination and flair to the project. However she also worked to a demanding deadline, and responded well to suggestions and feedback. Kai was a good communicator, and she was proactive about sending updates and following up the project. Kai was imaginative and professional and I would recommend her to anyone looking for creative video work within a short time frame.’ — Digital Curator Ellie Miles. Museum of London, 2013.
‘You are one of the most positive and energetic people I know!! Really inspiring to work with you!!’ — Elisa Itkonen. Curator. ANTI-Festival. Finland. 2015.
‘Kai was brilliant to work with from the start and delivered a high quality presentation that was packed with artefacts, video, and texts that could be further articulated and unpacked later through analysis and reflection in the workshop. Kai was always open and responsive to ideas and feedback with myself and the group. The workshop was thoughtfully written and led with warmth and humour. She has a discursive style and is intuitive which is crucial given the diversity of staff and the complexity of the issues at our institution. This generosity led to imaginative outcomes from participants. Kai was wonderful to work with and I hope to continue our conversations in the future. –Sally Hall, Plymouth College of Art
‘You’re a gem and you inspire me profoundly! Thanks for your energy!’ – Dr Elisa Herrera Altamirano (Mexico/Spain)
‘Thank goodness for you & your work Kai! You are one of the most important drivers in giving me energy to push for change’. – Dr Ranjita Dhital
‘She was very friendly and informative and we very much enjoyed this insight into Bloomsbury life’. — Chris Crowley. 2012. On my guided tour, Bloomsbury Festival. UK.
‘You should do a TED talk!’ – Chris Baker, Four Communications, 2018
‘You’ve taught me how to think’. —Michael Larsson. Collaborator. Former student. Sweden 2015.
‘You really got our teachers thinking differently’. —Dr Rini Paul, Teacher Development Lead, King’s Undergraduate Medical Education in the Community, 2018
‘Thank you for being the best tutor, especially when the support was much needed. I always felt listened to and always left a tutorial inspired due to your words’. –Transgender Fine Art student 2021
‘The external assessor has demonstrated an exemplary thoroughness with admirable professionalism. […] We should use her more often where possible. – Singapore Institute of Management University Assistant Provost Associate Professor Cheah Horn Mun. 2016. Singapore.
‘Your paper is overflowing with so many complex and fascinating ideas but is also underpinned by a strong pedagogic structure. […] I was very impressed at how you link your artistic and pedagogic practice’. – Professor Patsy Cullen, Principal Fellow, Higher Education Academy, on my Senior Fellowship paper.
‘She instigated and implemented major changes for the for the academic and artistic direction of the Video Art Pathway, resulting in a new and improved course design that matches international quality standards for Video Art at tertiary education level. Tan Kai Syng established herself as an excellent leader for the Video Art Pathway and respected team worker’. — Dean Wolfgang Muench. Faculty of Media Arts, LASALLE College of the Arts. 2009. Singapore.
‘Our meetings have given me continued higher level of learning that can improve my personal development as an artist. This formalisation of learning is important to me, as it provides discipline, focus and a framework in which to grow. You have helped guide and encourage me. Your strong work ethic is an inspiration. I have enjoyed the discussions and critical feedback and how you make me feel equal as a fellow professional. I am learning a lot, and without doubt the ROAM! ROAM! ROAM! meetings have been useful, without them I wouldn’t have been able to consolidate our ideas. Access to your office is very useful as it encourages a continuity of thought. It is a kind of refuge, a safe haven. I like knowing it’s there, somewhere to reflect and debate with likeminded people. […] This is the beginning, it will be interesting to see where it takes us’. – Leeds Arts University Staff, then 57, who was a mature student, 2016.
‘Without you I would not have been the person I am today’ — Vassili Sibirius from Sweden. 2011.
‘I’ve met only one Singaporean when I was there, it was she who always listen student’s voice and very eager to give everything whatever she knew. I was very lucky for meeting with such a kind […] teacher’. — Ex-student Nyi Lyn Seck from Myanmar. 2005, now Founder & Managing Director of 3XVIVR, the first VR company in Myanmar.