Jack makes work that explores the connection between the social, the legal and art. Using law, social relations and cultural norms as material, he creates performances, performatives, sculpture, video and participatory projects that highlight the rules — customs, rituals, habits and theories — that guide human behaviour. As part of Jack’s social practice, he blurs the boundaries between art, governance and consultancy in order to help organisations reform and revision themselves using artistic thinking.
Prior to becoming an artist, Jack trained as a lawyer and worked in civil litigation as well as in NGOs undertaking human rights case, policy and anti-racist campaigning work. He then studied ceramics, obtaining a BA from the University of Westminster and an MA from the Royal College of Art. In 2020, Jack completed his Ph.D in legal aesthetics and performance at the University of Roehampton, Dept of Drama, Theatre and Performance.
Recent projects include Learning Nonhuman (2021) at FACT Liverpool, a game app and planning tool that identifies human and nonhuman conflicts in the city; Four Legs Good (2018) a revival of the medieval animal trials at Compass Festival Leeds and V&A London; Voices From The Courts (2016), a sound installation examining the vocality of the Singapore State Courts at the Singapore Biennale, Karaoke Court (2015), a binding dispute resolution process via karaoke singing at the ICA Singapore; Law’s Imagination (2016) a curatorial residency on legal aesthetics at arebyte; his solo exhibition How to do things with rules (2015) at the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore; A kiss is just a kiss (2014), a performance exploring kissing and reconciliation at the Institute of International Visual Arts (Iniva), London; The Office of Public Ritual (2014), a bespoke ritual design service; and Closure (2012), a year-long residency and exhibition at the UK Department for Health looking at the liquidation of their social work regulator.
He was the Special Projects Curator for fig-2, a year-long series of 50 exhibitions in 50 weeks at the ICA London, and has also curated shows for Wiltshire Creative (Salisbury) and arebyte (London). He teaching experience includes: MA Sculpture Royal College of Art (2011-2013), MA Art & Politics at Goldsmiths (2018), BA (Hons) Sculpture at Brighton University (2012-2016), BA (Hons) Fine Art at Goldsmiths (2015-2017), BA (Hons) Theatre at Roehampton University (2013-2015). Jack will be co-editing a special issue of the Law & Humanities journal in 2022 on art and law.
Born in Singapore, Jack is based in Galloway, Southwest Scotland.
Jack uses law, social norms and customs as a way of making art. He creates performances, sculpture and participatory projects that highlight the rules that guide human behaviour. Jack trained as a lawyer and worked in civil rights NGOs before becoming an artist.
Current projects include Devising Governance (2021-22), a year-long experiment of creating organisational policy as performance scores via the process of making sculpture (Scottish Sculpture Workshop); Board Artist-in-Residence at FACT Liverpool (2021-22); and Decolonizing Constitutions (2020-ongoing), a training workshop that deconstructs coloniality in governance documents using theatrical and poetic textual analysis.
Recent projects include Learning Nonhuman (2021), a game app and planning tool that identifies human and nonhuman conflicts in the city (FACT Liverpool); Four Legs Good (2018) a revival of the medieval animal trials (Compass Festival Leeds / V&A London); Karaoke Court (2015), a binding dispute resolution process via karaoke singing (ICA Singapore).
Jack has a Ph.D in legal aesthetics and performance. He will be co-editing a special issue of the Law & Humanities journal in 2022 on art and law. Jack has taught sculpture at the Royal College of Art and Brighton University, and politics at Goldsmiths. Jack is based in Galloway, Scotland.
View Jack Tan’s CV.
Download larger version of image
To keep in touch for news of my upcoming exhibitions and new work, subscribe to my mailing list.