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
Residency dates: 3 May - 26 June 2016
Gallery opening hours: Thurs-Sat 12-6pm or by appointment
Arebyte Gallery, 49 White Post Lane, Queens Yard, London E9 5EN
Jack Tan, Artist-Curator:
firstname.lastname@example.org | 07872 182384 | @jackkytan
Nimrod Vardi, Director arebyte gallery
email@example.com | 07531574666 | @arebyte
Rebecca Edwards, Curatorial assistant
firstname.lastname@example.org | 07928649500