Sin Wai Kin, Today’s Top Stories

Acquisitions Scheme: Fine Art
Ferens Art Gallery, Hull


Sin Wai Kin is a non-binary artist who draws on the experience of existing between fixed categories to realise fictional narratives about the social body. They grew up in Toronto with a Hong Kong Chinese father and White British mother, and currently works from London. Sin works across performance, moving image, writing, and print. Originally known for using drag, which remains an important part of their practice to address themes, such as desire, identification, objectification, and binaries.


Today’s Top Stories and Island Universe are a pairing of a film and makeup wipe. Sin makes references to Zhuangzi’s ‘Dream of a Butterfly’, a Taoist philosophical provocation which tells the story of Zhuang Zhou, a man who one night went to sleep and dreamed he was a butterfly. When he wakes, he asks himself the question “Was I Zhuang Zhou dreaming I was a butterfly or am I now a butterfly dreaming I am Zhuang Zhou?”. 


Today’s Top Stories takes the form of a surreal news broadcast. Instead of reading factual news, the Storyteller reports on philosophical propositions on existence, consciousness, naming and identity. The Storyteller is a character played by Sin, recurring in their work. The video becomes distorted as it goes on, with glitches and voice edits increasing in frequency. This further builds on the idea that reality can often be indistinguishable from illusion, not unlike the rumors and propagandic news accounts we encounter daily. 


Island Universe is a makeup wipe, a product of the careful removal of the makeup Sin wore as the Storyteller in the video Today’s Top Stories.  The wipe, instead of being disposed becomes an art object. Through this act the character is put into stasis. At the same time Sin shows how identities can be put on and removed like an article of clothing. 


Ferens Art Gallery has a dedicated modern and contemporary gallery which has a significant collection of portraiture and studies of the human figure. Sin Wai Kin’s work is another form of self-portraiture, offering greater representation to its visitors. The acquisition coincides with a programme exploring identity which is curated by young people aged 18-25 from The Warren Youth Project and Future Ferens. 


Sin Wai Kin (b. Toronto, Canada, 1991) lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include Somerset House, London; The Guggenheim, New York (both 2022); Blindspot Gallery, Hong Kong (2021); Soft Opening, London (2020).  Recent group exhibitions include Tate Liverpool (2022/23); The British Museum, London; ICA, Los Angeles, USA (both 2022); LIMA, Amsterdam; 65th BFI London Film Festival; Polygon Gallery, North Vancouver (all 2021). They have been nominated for the Turner Prize 2022.  


Written by Efea Rutlin, Curatorial Trainee at Contemporary Art Society.