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Sin Wai Kin: It’s Always You

Friday, March 1, 2024Monday, August 12, 2024

Sin Wai Kin, It’s Always You (film still), 2021 © the artist. Courtesy of the artist and Blindspot Gallery. 

Ronnen Glass Box Theater 
Jeffrey E. Gundlach Building 

Sin Wai Kin produces complicated fictions based on their own journey through the spectrum of gender identity. In their teens, they became interested in the Toronto drag scene but found true liberation in the fluidity of London’s thriving queer community and drag cabarets, when they relocated there in 2009. Around this time, the artist worked under the name of Victoria Sin, a drag character that exuded a larger-than-life female archetype who ushered in the Golden Age of Hollywood by donning a platinum wig, dramatic makeup, large silicone breasts, and glamorously vamp attire. In the artist’s own words, through “a process of doing [female] drag and purposefully putting on a gender and then taking it off again,” Sin’s nonbinary identity was realized. These personal experiences inform their fantastical narratives, in which Sin aims to interrupt social norms around issues of desire, identification, and objectification. 

Sin’s It’s Always You  encourages viewers to reflect on the performance and commodification of identity in our present moment. It features a boyband of Sin’s construction in which they perform dressed up as each of the band’s four members—The Universe, The Storyteller, The One, and Wai King (a pun on the artist’s name). Each sways in slow motion against a greenscreen to the rhythm of a beating, synthesized score, alternately taking on the frontperson’s solo as they repeat the slow, infinitely looped lyrics.  

 

A closeup of a person in blue and yellow facepaint and a blue wig
Sin Wai Kin, It’s Always You (film still), 2021 © the artist. Courtesy of the artist and Blindspot Gallery. 

The personalities that Sin deploys through each character developed out of their careful research into boyband culture, from late 1990s groups such as the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC to contemporary groups such as BTS and Mirror. The members of such bands are often marketed individually, creating distinct fandoms around each. This sociocultural phenomenon serves as the backdrop for the universal message of It’s Always You: that all gender in the social sphere is a staged performance. In addition to the video, the installation features framed “publicity” posters and life-size cutouts of each of the group’s characters, with which visitors are invited to pose and  take “selfies.” By actively participating in Sin’s work, the public plays along in the commodification of gender identity—a role that while it may leave you questioning,  can be inventive, captivating, and fun. 
 

Sin Wai Kin, It’s Always You (film still), 2021 © the artist. Courtesy of the artist and Blindspot Gallery. 

Sin Wai Kin, It’s Always You (film still), 2021 © the artist. Courtesy of the artist and Blindspot Gallery. 

A Dream of Wholeness in Parts (still), 2021 © the artist. Courtesy the artist, Chi-Wen Gallery, Taipei and Soft Opening, London. Produced by Chi-Wen Productions, Taipei. Supported by Hayward Gallery Touring for British Art Show 9

This exhibition was curated by Holly E. Hughes, Godin-Spaulding Senior Curator for the Collection.

About the Artist

A person standing in front of a beach with a black wig, facepaint, breast forms, a corset and high heels, and flowers are scattered along the rocks

Sin Wai Kin lives and works in London, England. Working within performance, the moving image, and the written word, Sin employs drag practice to call into question the ways in which society and the media affect how gender is perceived and understood. Drawing closely on personal experience, they create heavily constructed, fantastical narratives interrupting these conventional modes of processing desire, identification, and objectification.


[A Dream of Wholeness in Parts (still), 2021 © the artist. Courtesy the artist, Chi-Wen Gallery, Taipei and Soft Opening, London. Produced by Chi-Wen Productions, Taipei. Supported by Hayward Gallery Touring for British Art Show 9]

Sponsor

Sin Wai Kin: It’s Always You is presented by Cynthia and Jan van Eck.

Installation and technical services are generously supported by Advantage Technology Integration.
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