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Karaoke Court



Thursday, 23 June 2016
Thursday, 23 June 2016 - 7:00pm
Jack Tan

Karaoke Court is a live performance and arbitration process where participants agree to resolve their disputes by singing karaoke before an audience-jury. Litigants will select, prepare and perform songs as a way of resolving their disputes with each other. The performances are overseen by the Karaoke Court judge, who invites the audience as ‘jury’ to decide who should win each case before making a ruling. The processes and decision of the Karaoke Court are made legally binding via the participants’ signing of an arbitration contract beforehand. A work of performance art by Jack Tan, Karaoke Court is inspired by Eskimo and Inuit tradition of Song Duels, where litigants presented grievances to the entire community for judgment in the form of humorous and satirical song.

On 23 June 2016, a new way of settling disputes will come to Hackney Wick in London. Karaoke Court, by artist Jack Tan, is an arbitration process where litigants agree to resolve their disputes by karaoke singing before an audience-jury. Taking place at The Yard Theatre, Karaoke Court is one of the exhibits at Law’s Imagination, an eight-week residency exploring the connections between legal and art practice at arebyte gallery.

Inspired by the Inuit and Arctic Eskimo tradition of Song Duels - where litigants presented grievances to the entire community for judgment in the form of humorous and satirical song - participants in Karaoke Court will resolve their cases by singing karaoke in front of an audience who will decide who wins. The processes and decision of the Karaoke Court are overseen by a Karaoke Court Judge and made legally binding via the participants’ signing of an arbitration contract. In the lead-up to Karaoke Court, a Clerk’s office has been set up in arebyte gallery, where litigants may file their cases and get help with their song choices and performances. The Clerk (artist Jack Tan) will also help disputants agree on the remedies should either party win.

Karaoke Court was first produced at The Gowlett Pub in Peckham, South London, in March 2014  with KC Judge Henfrey presiding, and then at the ICA Singapore in September 2015 before KC Judge Cheng. Past litigants have included a band manager and band leader disagreeing over their future two year business plan, a mother and grown-up daughter in a long term dispute over curfew times, and a music tutor and her student in dispute about the teaching syllabus.

“We usually perceive litigation as a negative experience – one which corrodes relationships and goodwill, one which divides rather than unites. Karaoke Court turns that on its head. It is constructive, not destructive; through humour and performance, it encourages cohesion,” said Jack Tan, who will play the role of the Clerk. “The work is embedded within community practices and spaces, and does not simply attempt to make new art but rather, to create new social norms. ”

Karaoke Court forms one of six projects within the Law’s Imagination residency at arebyte gallery that explores how artistic approaches can unlock or extend the imaginative capacities and capabilities of law.

“We are really excited to be working with Jack Tan during his residency at arebyte. The interplay between artistic practice, curatorial discourse and legal aesthetics has opened new areas for discussion which reinforces the gallery’s emphasis on promoting new and innovative means of engaging the public and facilitating participation. We hope the residency and subsequent events will engage with a wide audience who have differing interests and knowledge, and that in turn will create new dialogue surrounding art and the law.” - Nimrod Vardi, director of arebyte Gallery

Artist ( Description ): 

Jack Tan makes work that explores connections between the social, the legal and art.

Prior to becoming an artist, Tan worked in civil litigation and non-governmental organisations undertaking human rights case and policy work. He then studied ceramics, obtaining a BA from the University of Westminster and an MA from the Royal College of Art. He is currently pursuing a PhD in the Department for Drama, Theatre and Performance at the University of Roehampton, London, where he is researching performativity and legal aesthetics.

Recent projects include How to do things with rules (2015) a solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, A kiss is just a kiss (2014) at the Institute of International Visual Arts (Iniva), London; The Office of Public Ritual (2014 – ongoing), an artists’ collective and bespoke ritual design service; and Closure (2012), a year-long residency and exhibition at the UK Department for Health, which documented the legal dissolving of a social work quango. He was Special Projects Curator for fig-2, a year-long series of 50 exhibitions in 50 weeks at the ICA London.

Other Info: 

Arebyte Gallery:

Arebyte Gallery is a cross disciplinary  space in East London working mainly in Performance and New-Media arts researching the relationship between the body,  technology and human experience. We work with local and international artists on-site and on-line, promoting new and innovative means of engaging the public and facilitating participation. Read more about Arebyte's 2016 programme on Legal Aesthetics.

The Yard Theatre:

The Yard is a multi-award winning theatre venue located just minutes from the Olympic Stadium in London’s Hackney Wick. Read more here.

Venue ( Address ): 

The Yard Theatre
2A Queen's Yard
Hackney Wick
E9 5EN

arebyte gallery , London

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