For me, the acts of writing, editing, translation, and curation are virtually inseparable, and all are equally important elements of my practice. Though some may look at editing and translating as a kind of “grunt work” or a “dirty little secret” preferring to leave them off their CVs, I find all of these tasks equally engaging and intellectually challenging in different ways. One of the great benefits of translation work is being able to step inside someone else’s head for a spell and understand their thoughts in an intimate way.
I began my writing career as early as 1999, working at the McGill Tribune as a photo editor but occasionally writing and editing. Not thinking myself a born writer, I just sort of fell into it through opportunities in China. Though I had no starry-eyed sense of predestination about being a writer, my early experiences somehow managed to imprint on something upon my psyche which made writing central to the importance of everything I do. Even when I was working as a curator, writing became a kind of necessary ritual which must be performed in order to divine the thoughts of the artists and create a sense of coherence to each exhibition.
I began tracking the development of Contemporary art in China in 2004 working as an editor for that’s Shanghai, plunging deeper as I began to write for more specialized publications such as Art Asia Pacific, Flash Art, and Art Review. During that time, I also had the opportunity to write for “trade mags” such as Billboard, which took my writing to a more granular, more industry-focused level which continues in the work I have done for the British Council for their China Now platform and also for the work I did for the Arts & Life section of the National in Abu Dhabi in 2008. This work for more mainstream media means that, though I can write in more academic registers, I do tend to lean towards more accessible prose.
I’ve had experience writing everything from press releases to tweets, from exhibition wall texts or didactics, to museum planning proposals and industry reports. I love falling down the “rabbit hole” of research but I am also sensible enough to know when it’s time to climb my way out and present my findings.
More recently my writings have become more granular, for instance:
“Great Leap Forward 2.0: ‘Internet Plus’ and the Rapid Integration of Digital Technology in Chinese Museums,” China Now (British Council arts and creative industry platform), Fall 2019.
“One Country, Two Systems: A Hegemonic History of Public and Private Museums in China,” Yishu, issue 93, 2019.
“Diversity in Chinese Museums from Objectification to Inclusion,” China Now (British Council arts and creative industry platform), Spring 2019.
See the full list of publications here:
In terms of book editing, I have recently had the joy of being involved in several very interesting projects including Museum Development in China: Understanding the Building Boom published by Roman and Littlefield and Migratory Feasts: Voices from the Kitchens of Singapore. On both projects, I was brought on as a contract editor but then given either an editor-or author credit given the amount of work put into shaping the texts including additional research and overall conceptualizing of the book.