Identity: strongly felt, elusive, performative, constructed, ambiguous, fluid. Artist Yi Ten Lai (b. 1996, Bailén, Spain) questions the dynamics and rhetoric of self in her solo exhibition, entitled Oriente, Sur de Occidente. Engaging with the practice of traditional crafts and rituals, Lai examines feelings of national and cultural belonging. Reflecting upon her Spanish upbringing and Chinese roots, Lai denounces the binary of East/West, formulating instead a third, more nuanced, transcultural arena.
Through her paintings, performances and ceramic works, Lai investigates alterity. Foreignness, as a concept, is questioned. Cultures and civilisations overlap and bleed into each other throughout history. Growing up near Granada, Lai notes the Arabic influence on Spain in the Islamic architecture, which exists, to this day, hundreds of years after the Catholic annexation. Otherness is at the heart of Lai’s multidisciplinary practice. By de-constructing firm binaries and rejecting rigid distinctions of the past, Lai calls into question every definition, dissecting who we are, how we act, how we are perceived, and why.