Sort By:

Screenplays of “The Cook from Canton” and “The Expulsion” (2021, 2022), 2024

How I came to write two screenplays. For more information, please get in touch with me: I teach a graduate seminar course at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia on the history of Chinese contract laborers and other indentured groups in the United States and other regions of the Americas.  (Indentured labor of course reached […]

On Monument Lab (2018), 2023

Published in Monument Lab: Creative Speculations for Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 2019 Monument Lab: A Public Art and History Project began with a conversation between Paul Farber and I five years ago. Farber had just returned to Philadelphia after completing his PhD in Michigan and I had just arrived from Vancouver. We both had new positions […]

Looking Up (2013), 2023

Lecture at M+ Matters ARTWORKDOCUMENTATION: Rethinking the Categories of Art and Documentation M+, West Kowloon, Hong Kong, November 2013 I would like to begin with a work by the Soviet-born artist Ilya Kabakov. At first it is jarring to see what appears to be a radio antenna in such a pastoral setting. But upon further […]

Emptiness is the nature of all things., 2023

I first met artist Brenda Draney at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in 2010. My initial impression of her paintings was that they were not fully realized, with their sketchily defined vignettes floating like islands in a sea of undifferentiated canvas. There was, however, a quality about them that expressed her ambition to […]

Melly Shum Hates Her Job But Not The Witte de With (2012), 2023

Commissioned by the Witte de With Gallery Rotterdam, 2010, for online publication Published in 20+ Years Witte de With Witte de With Publishers, 2012 I had the honour of being the inaugural exhibitor at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art when it opened its doors in 1990. The exhibition was a survey of my […]

The Figure in the Carpet (2016), 2023

Published in Wall to Wall: Carpets by Artists, ed. Cornelia Lauf Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2016 The oldest hand-knotted carpet in existence is the Pazyryk Carpet. It was excavated from one of several burial tombs in the Altai Mountains of Siberia in 1949 along with mummified human bodies, a funerary chariot, decorated horses, wooden […]

Me and Mel Chin, 2023

In Romantic literature, representations of the self are often haunted by the spectre of the doppelgänger, the concept of the lookalike double being at once a harbinger of misfortune and a symbol of divided existence. The doppelgänger counteracts aspirations of a subject founded on principles of autonomy and represents a rupture to the politics of […]

L’espoir à Saint-Roch (2010), 2023

Published in Habiter, curated by Giorgia Volpe and André Gilbert, Quebec City: VU, 2010 In 2006, I was invited to Quebec City to participate in Habiter, an exhibition that took as its theme the Saint-Roch neighbourhood of the city. This neighbourhood constitutes the working-class heart of the city and is markedly multi-ethnic relative to the rest of […]

Ian Wilson: From Chalk Circle to Full Circle (2013), 2023

Dia Art Foundation Artists on Artists Lecture Series, New York, 10 December 2013 When the Dia Art Foundation invited me to speak about one of the artists in their collection, I chose Ian Wilson for the most personal of reasons. I would like to take you back to 1983. I was running a little storefront […]

From Analog to Digital: A Consideration of Photographic Truth (2012), 2023

Lecture at the Banff Centre for the Arts Banff, Alberta, 7 February 2012 I want to start by describing three images as a way to start thinking about the intersection of photography, facticity, and politics. What you will see is that they present us with a revelation in excess of what they depict. This is […]

Tracking Colonialism from Delhi to Toronto (2018), 2023

It was a picture-perfect day as I sat down on a public bench in the centre of Queen’s Park in Toronto. There were children playing about me, people casually strolling, and sunshine breaking unevenly through the canopy of oak and maple trees. I was early for my presentation at the nearby University of Toronto, so […]

Homes (1993), 2023

The irony of converting a building whose function remains articulated in its very design into an entirely different use can have a certain appeal. There is a degree of enjoyable challenge in trying to remember when such and such a building served this or that function. But the constant flux of the city causes a […]

On the Necrology Series (2019), 2023

In 2015, on the sesquicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s death, the Philadelphia Inquirer reprinted its front page as it had appeared on April 15, 1865, a day after the American president’s assassination. I was struck by the appearance of the page, how differently it looked from today, with what seemed like illogical spacing, kerning, eclectic use of fonts, […]

Past & Present, Art & Labour Meet in St. Louis and New York (2012), 2023

It has been four months since my move to Philadelphia. I have been inundated with work at the University of Pennsylvania. Thankfully, the workload is becoming more manageable as my administrative role becomes more clearly defined. Punctuating my time on campus have been trips to St. Louis, New Orleans, Chicago and New York for art-related projects. […]

Canadian Identity Debates are Broken. Let’s Fix Them. (2013), 2023

Since my last column entry, I have received two invitations to attend conferences in Canada dealing with the issue of “safeguarding” Canadian art and culture. One conference in Toronto had as its theme “What makes Canadian art Canadian?” while the other in Edmonton dealt with the question of “Who speaks for Canadian culture?” Both questions are […]

Reflections on being an artist in Canada vs the United States (2016), 2023

July 2015 marked my fourth year in the Philadelphia area. I continue to adjust to the differences that make life in the United States so vastly distinctive from life in Canada. These differences have much to do with the ways that many Americans and Canadians see themselves and their places in the world. I have […]

Revisiting China, 2019

The Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni accepted an invitation by Mao Zedong’s government to visit China in 1972, during the height of the Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976). His assignment was to make a film documenting the achievements of Communist era China. Throughout his visit which included a trip by train from Hong Kong to Beijing, […]

Eternal Glory to the People’s Heroes!, 2018

2019 marks an ignominious anniversary in China. Thirty years will have passed since the violent crackdown on student protesters in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The events of 1989 continue to reverberate both in terms of China’s domestic politics and its relationship to the world. It is important to note that internal protests against the prevailing […]