Thursday, May 29, 2008

Paul Chan : Smart/Dumb

"I think that art can be any number of things at once, and they can all be contradictory."
-Paul Chan

Veteran New Yorker contributor Calvin Tomkins profiles Paul Chan in the May 26, 2008, issue of the magazine ("Shadow Player"). I haven't always gravitated toward Chan's work, but some of his productions, including a recent project on display at The New Museum, are exceptionally rewarding.

Whatever your opinion of Chan's art, I recommend the article (which, unfortunately, is not available online).

I chuckled as I read about Amy Sillman's admonishment of Chan, when he was studying with her at Bard's M.F.A. program. Sillman told him, "Paul, it's clear that you're very bright, but dumb people make great work, too."

Sillman's statement riffs on a theme I heard several times in my own M.F.A. experience, though I was more often critiqued from the other side of that smart/dumb divide. Jackie Windsor, genuinely baffled, once asked me how it is possible that "such a smart person can make such stupid art."

As someone who feels, like Chan, that art can be many things, and can be interpreted or absorbed in many ways, I take Jackie's question to be a compliment.

1 comment:

hr_g said...

Brilliant post! How true and I like Chan's (and your) openness to the plurality of experience.