New Lovers of Paul Chan
The Hugo Boss Prize-winning artist talks about his exhibition at the Guggenheim.
Less than four months after landing the prestigious Hugo Boss Prize—which provides the winner with $100,000 and an exhibition at the Guggenheim in New York—the artist Paul Chan opened his show in one of the smaller galleries off the museum’s main rotunda on Friday, March 6. Entering Nonprojections for New Lovers, the first thing one feels is a breeze. Its source: the large fans that are part of Tetra Gummi Phone, a new artwork made up of tubes of nylon fabric billowing out from the wall. Chan, who is known mostly for politically charged digital animations, set out to rethink the idea of projected images in preparing for this show. “I wanted to find compositions that crystallize how I feel about moving images today,” he explains. In works from 2013 titled Play Doh and All Jennies, video projectors on the floor emanate subtle light that hits no surface, so that one can’t see the images loaded on them; they appear to be powered by cement-filled shoes scattered about. Also included in the show are paperbacks from New Lovers, a new series of erotica released by the artist’s publishing house Badlands Unlimited. For Chan, the shoes, the books, and the fabric are all “nonprojections”—that is, projections stripped of actual images. The shoes stir up imagined narratives about their wearers; the erotica allows the reader to project their own sexual fantasies onto the text; and the fabric is projected into the gallery through air. “When we read a good book, or even a really bad book, images are conjured in our minds,” Chan says. “And who knows where they are? They are not in front of us. They are like ghostly apparitions, but they feel as real as anything. I think those kinds of projections may be the ones I hold onto more now.”
“The Hugo Boss Prize 2014: Paul Chan, Nonprojections for New Lovers” is on view through May 13, 2015, at the Guggenheim in New York.