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the speech

link --> [1] -1:03:23

The title was never shown, since it was introduced more as a pitch than as a speech.

Let's talk as one human being to another: towards a shared art history


photos [2]

article (search "yang") [3]

speech process

After seeing the open call (Towards a shared art history) and the fields of some panelists (curator, independent curator, market people) I had the idea to speak.

I happened to be reading How to Write About Contemporary Art my Gilda Williams, and had been thinking about accessibility of the language around art works. I consider it relevant to transfer that language to the operations of art (whatever it consists, institutions, markets, etc).

There's a difference between relevance and urgency. I am leaning towards the a less-activist vocabulary because I still feel quite new:

  • as an student in an established art institution (and thus learning what being here means)
  • in the museum/gallery/dealer/collector power structure
  • in the Netherlands (as opposed to the US, where I previously lived, though less as an artist)

I have some knowledge in artist residencies and alternative schools, and have been actively reading about and participating in them. Yet I have not formed any systemic thought in terms of how they would affect the the larger art world (or small, depending on how conservative this term remains).

I must speak from what I know. I believe in the telling of a story -- not an illustration of victimhood (because I feel privileged in a lot of aspects, such as having had a career that shaped my middle-class life as well as having the support from my family when I needed it), nor as a pitch for a product (perhaps later on, this will morph into some sort of platform/space that would need to make a call for next action/capital, but I do not have a concrete picture right now).

I wrote three drafts for the speech.

The first was a meandering tale of my trajectory in the past three years.

The second, a manifesto-esque document that makes declarations on an open art history.

I arrived at the third, consisting of the most poignant parts from the first draft and interspersed with the short, to-the-point statements from the second. The process took a few days of writing and re-writing. I felt anguish as I tried to tell an honest story while making clear about my vision.


I got quite emotional when the speech reached my leaving the US, my circumstances limited by my passport and my choice to come to the NL. I didn't feel them during rehearsals. This is important to note: something true struck when I delivered my words in front of an audience.

When the moderator asked a pertinent question — what kind of support would you need — I passed on the mic to another speaker out of courtesy. That was a mistake. If I have an answer to a question — on stage, in a limited timeframe — I talk. I will set this rule from now on.

The moderator did ask me at the end of the Q&A — what kind of infrastructure do you envision — which I could not respond haphazardly and chose to hint at possibilities that did not any specific shape. What I would like to discuss should happen in a dialogue situation rather than a pitch.

I would also have liked more conversations after the conference, esp. with people involved in institutions and processes who are re-thinking about the models of the current operations in the arts (or art-related social frameworks and power dynamic).

I need to do more research on what Clemetine Deliss is doing.

Two days after the speech, someone recognized me at the Plant Book Fair. She thanked me for offering my perspectives. I told her it was rather interesting that my speech happened right after the art market panel, contrasting rhetorics from those who hold money and a certain kind of power and cynicism and that from someone who does not have the same amount of capital yet does not aspire to gain capital (monetary or social) in the same framework. She commented on the interesting mix of people who came to the conference. We had a good chat.