English as A Second Language: An Exhibition by Hanna Moon & Joyce Ng

Hanna Moon, Heejinin Seamen’s Hall, 2018© Hanna Moon:Somerset House

Hanna Moon, Heejinin Seamen’s Hall, 2018© Hanna Moon:Somerset House

It was only sixteen years ago that Sofia Coppola showed us the meaning of being lost in translation through her cult flick movie. 2019 sees a new take on this particular topic of otherness through the Somerset House exhibition English as a Second Language.
Curated by Shonagh Marshall, the show features the work of London-based Asian-born contemporary photographers Hanna Moon and Joyce Ng. The work, being taken around and in Somerset House, shows themes of diversity and alienation. All things that come to life, just like in the Coppola movie, when trying to survive a place that doesn’t speak your first language. Or humour. Or lifestyle.

Joyce Ng, Face Value for Numéro China, 2018 © Joyce Ng

Joyce Ng, Face Value for Numéro China, 2018 © Joyce Ng

Hanna Moon, Gao for‘Cherry Baby’,Dazed Fall 2017 © Hanna Moon

Hanna Moon, Gao for‘Cherry Baby’,Dazed Fall 2017 © Hanna Moon

Hanna is originally from South Korea and Joyce from Hong Kong. They met while studying at Central Saint Martins in 2010. Even if easily grouped under the Asian category, the artists assert their differences. The way they interpret language and symbols sometimes separate them on another dimension of thoughts, as opposed to someone who grows up in a mono-dialect world.

When I first moved here there were a lot of things that I would interpret differently to how they were meant to be. It doesn’t just come down to language, though; it can apply to everything. You always understand things in your own way. For example, how I take or understand British culture might be different to what British culture actually is.
— Hanna Moon for Wonderland magazine
Joyce Ng, “Safe in London! With Love, Guan Yin <3”, 2018© Joyce Ng:Somerset House

Joyce Ng, “Safe in London! With Love, Guan Yin <3”, 2018© Joyce Ng:Somerset House

In a time when the word “Brexit” is constantly shown on the first tab of our news app, a show displaying the feelings of alienation through the eyes of two London-based immigrants seems incredibly relevant. The beautiful aspect of it though is that Joyce and Moon don’t restrict themselves to show otherness through their work: they confirm the positivity of being in between spheres and being able to understand both aspects, both cultures and both worlds.

It’s a positive thing though: I think that having worked in the fashion industry with our backgrounds has given us the ability to create something close to chemical reactions, to be able to bring together diverse references and to make magic happen. We’re mixing all these elements through us to create a body of work. We don’t necessarily know what we’re trying to say, we’re just showing ourselves. We’re the ones “lost in translation”, and it’s a quality that allows us unlimited possibilities for creativity
— Hanna Moon for Wonderland magazine

The exhibition is split into three sections: the first displays the new work Hanna made for the show, the second features Joyce’s new body of work and the third displays work they have shot for advertisements, editorials and personal projects.

Joyce Ng, ‘Seven Sisters- Framed’, 1 Granary, No.4, 2016© Joyce Ng

Joyce Ng, ‘Seven Sisters- Framed’, 1 Granary, No.4, 2016© Joyce Ng

Joyce Ng Maginé on the Spectrum Super Yaya Spring Summer 2018 © Joyce Ng

Joyce Ng Maginé on the Spectrum Super Yaya Spring Summer 2018 © Joyce Ng


25 Jan – 28 Apr 2019

More details 

Terrace Rooms

South Wing