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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 […]

Encountering Chen Zhen: A Paris Portal (2007), 2023

Published in Chen Zhen: The Body as Landscape, ed.Ilse Lafer Vienna: Kunsthalle Wien, 2007 I first met Chen Zhen in 1995. I was living in Paris and teaching at the École des Beaux-Arts. While there I was introduced to a number of Chinese artists and curators who had immigrated to France. They included the artists Yang […]

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 […]

Something’s Missing (2006), 2023

Published in Canadian Art 23, no. 4 (winter 2006) Several years ago, in Dakar, Senegal, on the occasion of Dak’Art, the largest art biennial in West Africa, I was on Gorée Island, a short ferry ride from Dakar, a place developed during the seventeenth century as an administrative post for the embarkation of slaves destined for […]

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 […]

Dear Steven: A letter about art education (2009), 2023

Published in Art School (Propositions for the 21st Century), ed. Steven Henry Madoff, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2009 Dear Steven, I’ve been struggling with the essay for the art education book. I just can’t seem to get a proper handle on what I want to say. Much of this has to do with a kind of doubt […]

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 […]

Art and Ethnology: A Relationship in Ironies (2005), 2023

Published in Intruders: Reflections on Art and the Ethnological Museum, eds. Gerard Drosterij, Toine Ooms, and Ken Vos Zwolle, Netherlands: Waanders; with the National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden, 2005 The train departs Linz for Vienna in fifty-four minutes and I am hungry. The only true restaurant in the Linz railway station is rather shabby-looking, a quality […]

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 […]

Canadian Cultural Policy: A Problem of Metaphysics (1999), 2023

Published in Canadian Art 16, no. 3 (fall 1999) A quip from former Canadian prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874–1950) contends that too much geography rather than too little history afflicts Canada. Add to this the racial and ethnic diversity of the Canadian population and the problem of how to forge and project Canadian culture becomes […]

The Difference Between Art and Fact (1995), 2023

Published in Camera Austria International 51–52, 1995 Formalism teaches us to consider every visible aspect of art as significant. Social history teaches us that a consideration into context and an analysis of the historical environment of a work of art can provide insights into the underlying factors contributing to meaning. We have all become as capable as […]