The Hu­go Boss Prize Paul Chan

PAUL CHAN

L'officiel Art - - Sommaire -

Paul Chan (Ame­ri­can, born 1973 in Hong Kong) won the 2014 edi­tion of the Hu­go Boss Prize, a bien­nial award ho­nou­ring ar­tists who have made a vi­sio­na­ry contri­bu­tion to contem­po­ra­ry art. On the oc­ca­sion of his show at the Gug­gen­heim Mu­seum in New York, L’Of­fi­ciel Art met with the ar­tist who re­flects on the idea of image-ma­king in an ex­pan­ded field, al­ways see­king for a truer un­ders­tan­ding of rea­li­ty.

Paul Chan, Li­lith Wes, We Love Lu­cy; Wed­nes­day Black, How To Train Your Vir­gin; and An­drea McGin­ty, God, I Don’t Even Know Your Name, 2015. From the se­ries New Lo­vers (New York: Bad­lands Un­li­mi­ted). Three books, avai­lable as pa­per­back and e-book.

1. Ins­tal­la­tion view: The Hu­go Boss Prize 2014: Paul Chan, Non­pro­jec­tions for New Lo­vers, So­lo­mon R. Gug­gen­heim Mu­seum, New York, March 6–May 13, 2015. 2. Paul Chan, Vo­lumes, (detail), 2012, ins­tal­la­tion con­sis­ting of 1005 pain­ted book co­vers (oil on fa­bric, pa­per, and syn­the­tic lea­ther), di­men­sions va­riables, Ema­nuel Hoffmann Foun­da­tion, gift of the pre­sident, 2012, on per­ma­nent loan to the Öf­fent­liche Kunst­samm­lung Ba­sel. 3. Paul Chan, Sock N Tease, 2013, Concrete, cord, shoes, and vi­deo pro­jec­tors, with di­gi­tal co­lor vi­deo, silent, 10.2 x 358.1 x 229.9 cm ove­rall. Ins­tal­la­tion view: Paul Chan – Se­lec­ted Works, Schau­la­ger, Ba­sel, April 12–Oc­to­ber 19, 2014. 4. Paul Chan, Plow High­ness, 2013, Cords and vi­deo pro­jec­tor with di­gi­tal co­lor vi­deo, silent, 15.2 x 436.9 x 297.2 cm ove­rall. Ins­tal­la­tion view: Paul Chan – Se­lec­ted Works, Schau­la­ger, Ba­sel, April 12–Oc­to­ber 19, 2014. 5. Paul Chan, Hap­pi­ness (Fi­nal­ly) Af­ter 35,000 Years of Ci­vi­li­za­tion (af­ter Hen­ry Dar­ger and Charles Fou­rier), 20002003, di­gi­tal vi­deo pro­jec­tion (co­lor, sound), 17'20'', The Mu­seum of Mo­dern Art, New York. Frac­tio­nal and pro­mi­sed gift of Da­vid Tei­ger.

L’OF­FI­CIEL ART / Your works take the shape of do­cu­men­ta­ry vi­deos, ani­ma­ted pro­jec­tions, char­coal dra­wings, concep­tual ty­pe­faces, and pu­blic per­for­mances. Could you tell us what is the es­sence of your work, the com­mon de­no­mi­na­tor, where it all comes from? PAUL CHAN / The com­mon de­no­mi­na­tor is that I’m al­ways trying to cheat fate.

You once said that art was “like a con­trol­led form of trau­ma”. Does your ins­pi­ra­tion come from your own his­to­ry, your per­so­nal bat­tles? I think when I said that I was being ter­ri­bly me­lo­dra­ma­tic! But on the other hand, it’s cer­tain­ly true that we draw our re­sources and how we think from our past. Whe­ther it’s pro­duc­tive or des­truc­tive. Maybe that’s as close to an ans­wer as I could come.

The Hu­go Boss Prize is one of the most pres­ti­gious re­cog­ni­tions for an ar­tist. How do you re­spond to this award and how did you work with the Gug­gen­heim team to put up the show in this con­text? Well they gave me a call to tell me I got the award. I think the first thing I said was: “Oh, fuck”. I was so sur­pri­sed and ho­nou­red. And then for the next couple of months I wor­ked with the Gug­gen­heim team on the show and that was a real­ly good ex­pe­rience. Ho­we­ver, this kind of re­cog­ni­tion is com­pli­ca­ted to deal with for someone like me be­cause I have spent most of my adult ar­tis­tic life doing things the way that I thought they should be done, and not whe­ther or not anyone would ever re­co­gnize my work. So it’s a lit­tle dis­con­cer­ting when people ac­tual­ly do re­co­gnize it. It’s like wor­king in the dark and en­joying it and then so­me­how, all of the sud­den, the light comes on. It’s a change. And one hopes that one will be adap­table. But it’s a change, and lu­cki­ly we, hu­man beings, are not that bright. We for­get things ve­ry qui­ck­ly. So ho­pe­ful­ly the light will turn off soon and I can go back in the dark again, pret­ty. Maybe in a week or so… Your work ques­tions the idea of ima­ge­ma­king and vi­sual pro­jec­tion, what do you ex­pect the vi­si­tor to ex­pe­rience in the show? I’m pret­ty sure I don’t ex­pect any­thing out of the pu­blic. I’m just hap­py that they are not in pri­son or dead and that they have found them­selves in the room where my works hap­pen to be. I’ve made so­me­thing that confounds per­haps even me. And maybe the best I can hope for is that fee­ling of confoun­ded­ness in them.

In 2010, you foun­ded Bad­lands Un­li­mi­ted, an ex­pe­ri­men­tal pu­bli­shing en­ter­prise, which is part of your work. Could you tell us more about this project and about your new se­ries cal­led “New Lo­vers” that you are pre­sen­ting here at the Gug­gen­heim? Pu­bli­shing is ve­ry im­por­tant, it’s a way of “ma­king a pu­blic”. A pu­blic is ne­ver found, it’s made, I think. Thanks to books, ma­ga­zine, jour­nals, things we read, we make our own pu­blic. That’s what I try to do. For “New Lo­vers”, me and the other ar­tists who are in Bad­lands Un­li­mi­ted have tried our hand at pu­bli­shing an ero­tic fic­tion and to create a pu­blic for it. We were ins­pi­red by Mau­rice Gi­ro­dias’s ra­di­cal Olym­pia Press – foun­ded in Pa­ris in 1953 as a plat­form for cen­so­red works by such au­thors as Sa­muel Be­ckett, William S. Bur­roughs, and Vla­di­mir Na­bo­kov. We think the ti­ming is right: the ideas about sexua­li­ty and plea­sure are chan­ging, as they are in art. New ge­ne­ra­tions are co­ming, new ideas about what’s plea­sing and what’s not plea­sing. And we need new people to talk about this. Not the ol­der people. There’s no­thing wrong with old people – I’m an old per­son – but the new ge­ne­ra­tion needs to talk about what’s plea­sing for them and what’s not. Plea­sure is ve­ry per­so­nal. The genre of ero­ti­ca is a literary form with the po­ten­tial to stir ima­gi­nings po­wer­ful enough to ani­mate the bo­dy.

“The Hu­go Boss Prize 2014: Paul Chan, Non­pro­jec­tions for New Lo­vers”, So­lo­mon R. Gug­gen­heim Mu­seum, 1071 Fifth Ave­nue (at 89th Street), New York Ci­ty, un­til May 13.

“The com­mon de­no­mi­na­tor in my work is that I’m al­ways trying to cheat fate.” PC

Paul Chan, pro­mo­tio­nal image for New Lo­vers. Pic­tu­red: Lyn­da Shel­don.

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