New York-based artist, writer, and publisher Paul Chan came to prominence in the early 2000s with vibrant moving image works that touched upon aspects of war, religion, pleasure, and politics. Around 2009, following a decade of art-making, Chan embarked on a self-imposed break, turning his attention to experimental publishing and the economics of information by founding the press Badlands Unlimited. Taking the notion of a “breather” as its organizing principle, this exhibition surveys Chan’s activities since his voluntary break from that point to the present.
Paul Chan: Breathers opens with Nonprojections and Arguments, two series that explore the possibilities of the moving image beyond its primary place of the screen or projection. Language, design, and networks of circulation are examined through the radical publications produced by Badlands Unlimited, which include paperbacks, e-books, zines, GIFs, and books on stone tablets in genres such as erotic fiction, artists’ writings, and poetry. The exhibition also showcases a new series of kinetic sculptures entitled Breathers. These fan-powered billowing fabric bodies, which move in a free-form choreography in the gallery, are described by Chan as “animated by breath.”
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog created in close collaboration with the artist, designed and published by the Walker Art Center.
Paul Chan: Breathers is organized by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and curated by Pavel Pyś, Curator, Visual Arts; with Matthew Villar Miranda, Curatorial Fellow, Visual Arts. The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis exhibition is organized by Misa Jeffereis, Associate Curator.
The exhibition is made possible by generous support from Candace Barasch. Support for the exhibition catalog is provided by Greene Naftali, New York; Maja Oeri, Schaulager Basel; and a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in support of Walker Art Center publications.
Paul Chan (b. 1973, Hong Kong; lives and works in New York) was recently named a 2022 MacArthur Fellow by the MacArthur Foundation. He was the 2014 recipient of the Hugo Boss Prize, which coincided with his solo exhibition Nonprojections for New Lovers at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2015). In 2019, Chan was one of six artists to co-curate the group exhibition Artistic License: Six Takes on the Guggenheim Collection. Solo exhibitions include Odysseus and the Bathers, Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens (2018); Bathers at Night, Remai Modern, Saskatoon (2018); Rhi Anima, Greene Naftali, New York (2017); Pillowsophia, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia (2017); Hippias Minor, Deste Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra (2015); Selected Works, Schaulager, Basel (2014); My laws are my whores, The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, Chicago (2009); The 7 Lights, New Museum, New York (2008); and The 7 Lights, Serpentine Gallery, London (2007). Chan’s work is in the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Art Institute of Chicago; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others.