21 January 2022

“I am now halfway through my Asymmetry Curatorial Fellowship at Whitechapel Gallery and my first-ever residency at Delfina Foundation. At Whitechapel Gallery I’ve been working on two exhibitions, Galleries in the Groove: Three Visionary Dealers, 1960s–80s and A Century of the Artist’s Studio: 1920-2020, which will open this February. I’m also working on a self-directed research project on the autobiographical storytelling of postwar artists in London.”

“The central folding partition divides my room here into two spaces: an almost physical manifestation of the work-life boundary, which, as we learned during the pandemic, is ever-changing and transformable. My room is southeast facing, with a beautiful morning light and two windows for casual fox-watching after midnight.”

“Like many of my fellow residents, books have accumulated in my room, even though I’ve barely started exploring the infamously numerous bookshops in London. Over the remainder of my residency there will only be more of these sweet burdens of knowledge accumulating, serving as a daily reminder to buy a new suitcase for my return trip.”

“This beautiful tote from Asymmetry Foundation became my commute-to-work bag, packed with essentials and a not-so-light book to read on District Line. Commuting between Westminster and Whitechapel has been an interesting way to observe the multifaceted London life.”

“I secretly brought my sketch books and watercolour set to Delfina. Drawing is my favourite way to spend time, although I often feel I should be doing more reading and networking as a researcher and curator. But as Zhuangzi once said: If not for the profitless deeds, how can we spend our limited life?”

Zoe Diao (China/USA) is Asymmetry Curatorial Fellow at Whitechapel Gallery, working with Whitechapel Gallery’s Exhibitions department, whilst being in-residence at Delfina Foundation (September 2021 to April 2022). Zoe is a researcher, curator, as well as a translator and writer, specialised in classical Chinese art and contemporary East Asian art. She is currently interested in environmental humanities, material culture and collecting history.

Photos resident’s own.