Paul Chan: Present Tense


Paul Chan: Present Tense

April 30, 2006
August 13, 2006

About the Exhibition

April 30, 2006 – August 13, 2006

This exhibition will present new works by Paul Chan, one of the country’s most provocative new media artists. Urgent, thoughtful, and compassionate, his works—which have been cited for their visual intensity and graphic flair—pose deeply philosophical questions in order to provoke awareness and debate. Born in Hong Kong, raised in Nebraska, and currently based in New York, Chan received hisB.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and his M.F.A. from Bard College. The recipient of critical acclaim for his recent films, videos, and projected animations, in the past year Chan has presented his work in group shows/screenings at the 2006 Whitney Biennial, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the 54th Carnegie International in Pittsburgh, and the 8th Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, France. He has completed several solo projects at the Hammer Museum, UCLA and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, among myriad other venues. This will be Chan’s first solo museum exhibition.

Comments from Annette DiMeo Carlozzi

Curator of American and Contemporary Art

Paul Chan: Present Tense will be the premiere venue for 2nd Light, the second in Chan’s new, seven-part series of small-scale projected meditations on faith and politics. 1st Light was unveiled at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston and is currently on view at this year’s Whitney Biennial. Using shadow imagery to evoke a dreamlike state where truths are hard to grasp, in 2nd Light Chan imagines a barren, post-apocalyptic landscape and the stirrings of those who have apparently survived. Ominous and silent, the work mixes abstraction and representation, vivid color and somber black and white, to suggest both terror and perhaps a glimmer of hope.

Among other major works in the show will be Chan’s 2004 operatic animation, My birds…trash…the future…, whose bleak landscape includes a diverse cast of murdered artists, feral creatures, frenzied paparazzi, and terrorists. Chan uses Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and the book of Revelation as points of departure for an exploration of cruelty and compassion, despair and hope, and the place of faith in a war-torn, violence-filled society. This two-channel digital video will be projected on an enormous hanging screen, accompanied nearby by a series of 24 engaging animation studies.

Also to be featured in the exhibition is The Constellation Series, a group of 10 large, framed inkjet drawings from 2005. In these works, Chan has renamed 10 constellations from the Milky Way galaxy after endangered principles of democracy such as a free press. The work articulates Chan’s commitment to political idealism in a poetic and unexpected manner.

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