Yu'an Huang

Curatorial Writing Fellow,
Chisenhale Gallery

As my Fellowship enters its final phase, I’d like to highlight some of the research methods, environments and methodologies that have influenced the collation of my cross-medium publication and Fellowship project KUA 跨 crossing beyond. Looking closely at how stories are told through the cultural lens, I’ve been reflecting on how we use our experience to understand ourselves, others, and social research. This is an important approach I want to consider when finalising the research and materials behind KUA and for future projects beyond the Fellowship.


During my research process for KUA, I've been looking at different papers and research on sociology. I met Sociologist Alison Rooke, a specialist in urban theory and creative research methods. Rooke brought the practice of autoethnography to my attention, a qualitative social research method whereby writing about one's personal experience can be used to critique and describe cultural beliefs, practices, and experiences. This method allows the researcher to gain a more in-depth focus on the wider cultural, social, or political context of their subject, in addition to focusing on the nuances and complexity of human social life, a process I felt inspired to integrate into my own research approach for KUA.

Mottl, M. (2002). The Identity Negotiation Perspective. University of Nürtingen-Geislingen. Image courtesy Yu’an Huang.


I recently visited the ‘Bloomberg: New Contemporaries’ exhibition at South London Gallery, where I came across a video work by Bo Choy, a Hong Kong, London-based artist. Choy’s work is a compilation of various footage of Hong Kong taken over a few years which weaves the city’s recent political events with the personal and domestic landscapes of its colonial past. This work prompted me to reflect on how to document our surroundings in a way that considers the tensions between social practice and social constraint, challenges I wish to address when in my own research method for KUA.

Choy, Bo. (2020). War of Perception. South London Gallery. Image courtesy Yu’an Huang.


Having worked as an independent curator for most of my career, being at Chisenhale Gallery has given me an interesting change of environment and has exposed me to collaborating with a great diversity of minds. So far, my experience has been a unique combination of presenting, networking, and participating in peer learning and support groups ­– a very interactive and social approach to working. My involvement in socially-oriented activities such as creative writing courses, workshops, and discussion groups has taught me more sustainable methods of working both within a team and by myself. For example, visiting the printers to discuss the publication details allowed me to share my ideas more expansively across mediums and with different people. When I reflect on my experience of past projects, I see the polarity between the research methods I used then and the methods I use now. From this reflection, it has become clear to me the importance that our social environments play in allowing us to acknowledge and value a researcher’s relationship to others, an aspect I will take into account when working with others for KUA.

“This is when I visited the printer Calverts in East London.” – Yu’an Huang. Image courtesy Yu’an Huang.


I’ve recently been reading ‘On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life’ (2012), by Sara Ahmed, which offers an account of diversity based on interviews with diversity practitioners in higher education. Her approach to identifying racism and institutional whiteness through verbal and written accounts is a research method I want to look at in more detail. Diversity is an integral aspect of my own project and something I want to address expansively and with urgency in my research.

Ahmed. S. (2012). On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life. Image courtesy Yu’an Huang.

Yu’an will launch the inaugural issue of her six-part cross-medium publication KUA 跨 crossing beyond as part of her final project outcome for the Curatorial Writing Fellowship at Chisenhale Gallery in May 2022.