· About 
· Artists and Collaborators
· Exhibition

· Related events
· Assist two fictional lovers
· Floor Plan

· Documentation︎︎


Not to be a singular being 

Stemming from the vision of Édouard Glissant, Not to be a singular being is an ongoing initiative that examines what it might mean to 'be one and multiple', 'be yourselves and the other' simultaneously, spanning exhibitions, performances, screenings, discursive events, online platforms and new commissions.

As a form of resistance to commodified identity politics and the reduction of human beings into static classification, the 1st edition of Not to be a singular being brings awareness of our own personal complexity, speculating on and forging entanglements with others. This way the project is dedicated to imagining "difference", and "otherness" anew. It consists of an exhibition, an opening night with four performances,  two related events, and an online platform.

Initiated by Renee Xinying Zhong

︎  ︎


The gallery space of Chisenhale Art Place Studio is wheelchair accessible, if you have any questions regarding accessibility, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

All images courtesy the artists.
All texts coppyright the authors. 
Not to be a singular being



An organic conversation about various forms of dissolution, connection, identities and multiplicity between Artists Asuf Ishaq, Diana Zrnic, Foxy Azucar, and Katarina Rankovic with Anthropologist Dr Farhan Samanan

Looking back at our related event, an organic conversation at Notes Coffee | Bank, here are some takeaways:  

Dr Farhan Samanan: “Where she [Marilyn Strathern] says
we shall require vocabulary that will allow us
to talk about sociality and the singular as well as
the plural far from being regarded as unique entities.
Melanesian persons are virtually as they are individually
conceived, they contain a generalised sociality within.
Indeed, persons are frequently constructed as the plural
and composite sites of the relationships that produce them.
      She goes on, in one sense, the plural and the singular are the same,
they're homologues of each other. That is, the bringing together
of many persons is like the bringing together of one.” *

How do you deal with the tension, of connection, of disporal histories, of debts and obligations and relationships on the one hand, and then on the other hand of the fact that home is the place of the world?

“Everything is sort of continuous and everything is possible and everything is contingent, but actually say, within this world of sort of contingencies and extensive possibilities, where will I stand? And where will I stand with other people? And then that's the other value that practices you build those relationships. And now you stand with people who you didn't stand with, necessarily before.

Katarina Rankovic: “In other words, I expose myself as much as possible to character. I were pleasantly jealous of these characters. I inhabit them willingly or unwillingly, I allow myself to become infected, under the influence of character, a vehicle for character to manifest and disappear, I get to know characters, I form relationships with them, which also means forming relationships with myself.”

“....the person is very, very contextual. So that when you enter a social environment, like a familial environment, it will trigger a system of knowledge in you, and you start behaving a certain way that can snap to a completely different system of behaviour in another setting. And this happened to me a lot, I was doing it every day, my accent would change quite a lot depending on who I was talking to, but also just my belief systems and everything switched. And that makes you start to think about authenticity...I'm trying to understand my authenticity in relation to my switchability.”

“And this is one shape [a hologram] that I like to use to think about the self, maybe the self is something that is simultaneously containing within it the whole, carrying with it traditions, communal practices and habits, but it’s expressed locally. And wherever it's expressed, it's expressed in a unique way, because it is in a unique position. So, holograms got me interested, as a way of thinking: is this actually paradoxical? Or is the split between the individual and the communal itself maybe an entrenched idea? ”

Asuf Ishaq: “I investigate ideas of nationhood and belonging, the ideas of rootedness, uprooted or rootless, explore ideas of Édouard Glissant's on hybridity and trace thinking and Paul Gilroy on double consciousness... By unravellingly questioning and making sense. So the liminal between forming and dissolving a practice. My practice takes inspiration from Samuel Beckett's novel, the unnameable, a disembodied protagonist drags itself through the boggy terrain, grappling with language in a bid to merge from formlessness and recuperating into something whole.”

“...involve her [Ishaq’s mother] in this creative process. It's kind of building a relationship, which has never been explored before. And, and there's so much I learned through this process. Whereas if you rely on your parents tell you stories, I mean, even though we do come from a culture of like spoken word and storytelling, but my parents, because of the trauma partition, because of trauma migration, they tend to focus on or they don't focus on it, but I tend to inherit a lot of the traumas of migration and leaving behind. That's why I kind of tried to mix it up in the sense of fiction and solid archival material, and just see where it takes me to, in a way to connect.

Diana Zeric: “...where I looked into the digital
and the actual overlaps in everyday life and our
experiences that are shaped by that crossover.
I was particularly interested in ways
which those two spaces penetrated, shatter
and how they spill over one another.
So to my work, I tried to portray that leakage
between those two spaces.”

Maria Joranko: “When people are like, the path forward is collective, whatever collectively working together, to organise in local areas...but it's difficult to do that in a very individualistic system, where we're just tired all the time, because we have to work to survive, and also are constantly pitted in competition with each other, with, you know, fake scarcity.”

“I think we might have had a conversation like, you know, when you occupy different languages and stuffs like that, having trouble being able to load sometimes your belief system because who have we become later doesn't always align with who you've been in a previous language or like in a different setting.”

“ I'm very selective about who I choose to speak in other languages's also like a method of protecting yourself as well, like choosing which self or like which language you want to occupy or be also comes back to like, how we empower and how it intends on us, because in a way, we're also trying to hold on to our own, like a formative agency of power.”

* Marilyn Strathern,The Gender of the gift 

© Not to be a singular being. 2022. All rights reserved.
Photographer Charlie Cao
Curator Renee Xinying Zhong