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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 […]

Tracking Colonialism from Delhi to Toronto: The Edward VII Statue in Queen’s Park, 2017

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 […]

The Figure in the Carpet, 2016

Catalog essay for the exhibition Wall to Wall: Carpets by Artists, curated by Dr. Cornelia Lauf for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland. The Figure in the Carpet Ken Lum May 2016   The oldest hand-knotted carpet in existence is the Pazyryk Carpet. It was excavated from one of several burial tombs in the Altai […]

Canadian Identity Debates Are Broken. Let’s Fix Them, 2013

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 […]

Past & Present, Art & Labour, 2012

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. […]

Melly Shum Hates Her Job But Not the Witte de With, 2010

© Ken Lum 2010 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 furniture sculptures, language paintings, and photo-text works. One of the latter works included was Melly Shum Hates Her Job […]