IN TOUCH - Tashi Dolma

We chat to Tiffany Singh about her work Tashi Dolma, a short video that captures the essence of her arts practice and the residencies she has done in Asia. Tiffany collaborated with musician and multimedia creative Steven Hue to create Tashi Dolma. The work was commissioned by the Asia New Zealand Foundation as part of the 2022 IN TOUCH Arts Commissions.

Watch Tashi Dolma

What does Tashi Dolma mean?

Tashi Dolma literally means Auspicious Tara. For me this resonates in Green Tara, the Buddhist Deity that is featured in the work. But in this case it is also the Buddhist names of my children that were given in a blessing by Geshe Wangchen from the Dorje Chang Institute in Auckland when they were both newborns. Tashi is my son Akaash and Dolma is my daughter Sequoia who also feature in the piece. 

What inspired the work?

My ongoing relationship with Asia is present through both Buddhist influences and outcomes.

The project focuses on the essence of my artmaking practice, as captured in various artist-in-residence programmes across Thailand, Taiwan and Nepal.

Spanning a decade of my career and moving through the process of motherhood, the visuals of daily life are interspersed with my fine art works that explore my inquiry into how societal expectations, family obligations and being classified as a minority voice in the art world affect and inform my work and the work of many other women artists.

Tiffany Singh standing outside holding her baby daughter in her arms

Tiffany Singh with her daughter Sequoia on a Taipei street during her 2018 residency at Taipei Artists Village

You collaborated with Steven Hue to create Tashi Dolma, can you tell us about that? 

My practice, informed by Eastern philosophy, is made accessible through Steven Hue’s thoughtfully crafted visual narrative, distilling long periods of time into short bursts of colour and texture.

Hue accompanies the moving images with an electronic score that features my phone recording of chanting at Lungshan Temple, Taipei. The raw, ambient recording blends with the contemporary language of Hue’s electronic production to accentuate both the connection and contrast we share in our daily lives, between Aotearoa and the East.

How have the residencies you've done influenced the work you create?

Residencies are vital to my development as an artist and working collaboratively with my Asian contemporaries.

As residencies aid artistic development and professional relationships that are relevant to communities the work aims to serve.

Relationships that are much harder to foster from afar, full immersion is vital as It is virtually impossible to create social practice works in non residency environments both locally and internationally.

Time is such a vital aspect to building trust and assessing how social practice methodologies can be appiled to be the most beneficial to the various communities I try to support through collaborative means.

Watch a slideshow of images from Tiffany's 2018 Asia New Zealand Foundation residency at Taipei Artist Village and hear her describe aspects of her Taiwan experience

Do you find that collaborating with artists based in Asia brings a unique dynamic to the works you create?

I am a social practice artist so working with women creatives in community based outreach projects is a large part of what I do. I have spent many years in Asia and feel very much at home there. I am Indian Samoan, so I draw hugely from the philosophy of the Asia-Pacific Region. 

How have you maintained connections to Asia over the past two-and-a-bit years (Covid) – has this period changed your relationship with the region?

I have a Taiwanese collaborator Jui-Pin Chang; We have been working on Treasure House, which is the primary body of work for the Totally Open Womens Project we have created together.

Treasure House was exhibited for the first Feminist exhibition in Taiwan recently and we have been working towards this for the past two years. The social practice component is vital to the artwork, enabling furthered visibility within a contemporary art landscape to elevate the importance of craft. 

Tiffany Singh and Jui-PIn Chang standing in front of one of Tiffany's artworks

Tiffany (left) with her Taiwanese collaborator Jui-PIn Chang

The project gives value to the artform of craft and allows women to subsidise their families and to further stabilise the living environment for their Hmong and Amis tribes. This project is an ongoing relationship with women's communities of Asia.

I have a deep connection with Asia and have been working collaboratively with 哈拿·葛琉 & The Orchid Weavers Women's Tribe of Dulan;  鄭玉花, 鄭惠美, 高燕玲, 潘淑華, 林淑玲 Taiwan, 2022 & Chamaliin Hmong Women's Refugee Community of Bangkok, Thailand, 2019  & Taiwanese filmmaker Yin Qi Huang.

It is an extremely important  project especially during a covid climate as it enables women's independence within a home environment so they can also look after their children whilst earning. We hope to work with more women's communities throughout the Asia Pacific region and develop the women's led narrative through facilitating craft into fine art works.

Tiffany Singh would like to acknowledge

  • Taiwanese filmmaker Genie Huang 黃茵琦 who is currently studying at National Taipei University of Art.

  • Collaborator Ella Brewer, who with Singh created the Shadows Of The Awakened Series that interprets Buddhist art from the Tibetan tradition for contemporary audiences.

  • Nepalese filmmaker Biken Ranjit for documenting the making of the artwork, culture and emotion of daily life in Kathmandu.

  • Taiwanese Artist Jui-Pin Chang, who with Singh facilitates the Totally Open Women's Project that presents the narrative of women’s liberation through objects of the domestic, while repositioning craft into fine art conceptual art contexts.