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Tough Ultramarathons and Life on the Run

Tan, Kai Syng (2016) Tough Ultramarathons and Life on the Run. Transfers, 6 (3). pp. 130-137. ISSN 2045-4813

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Abstract

What are the ways in which running—the popular exercise, the locomotion, the etymology of the word and its rich idiomatic expressions—can be acti- vated as a metaphor and method to think and talk about the so-called migrant crisis and, more generally, how people cross borders today? With phrases like “life on the run,” “letting your imagination run riot,” “running away,” and “running for your life,” how can the poetic processes of running act as a toolkit of resistance as we move about, to “run against” the status quo, in refusing to “take things lying down,” and letting things “come to a standstill”? What are the new frontiers for the twenty-first-century mobile citizen? What does it mean to be a political, digital, existential, and intellectual exile, either forced or voluntary? How can artists make and disseminate work on the move, and reflect on and complicate this life on the move? The above are a few of the overlapping—and contradictory—questions behind this exhibition of eight works put together for Transfers. I created the images over the past six years as a (mediocre) runner, mongrel, and one of 230 million people around the world who live outside the country in which they were born. Artist Ai Wei Wei has created artworks responding to the cur- rent refugee situation in Europe; yet more voices from the cultural sectors could help enrich the discussion dominated by politicians, journalists, scholars, and “Nimbies”— people who oppose something they perceive as detrimental to their immediate reality; “not in my backyard”).

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