- Prameya Art Foundation Presents: Private/Public/Lives | Paul Wong
- Paul Wong
- Five Octave Range
- Year of GIF
- Mother’s Cupboard: Red Lid Jars
- Mother’s Cupboard: Three Miracle Whip Jars
- Mother’s Cupboard: Six Taster’s choice Jars
- Mother’s Cupboard: Two Classico Jars
- Mother’s Cupboard: Aylmer Jars
- Mother’s Cupboard: Miracle Whip Jar: Het Aah Dew (iron hit rubbing alchol)
- Mother’s Cupboard: Nalley Sweet Green Relish Jar 2
- Mother’s Cupboard: Nalley Sweet Green Relish Jar 1
- Father’s Words: 1971 December 29
- Father’s Words: 1973 June 22
- Father’s Words: 1964 August 24
Paul Wong: Private/Public/Lives
Curated by Anushka Rajendran
Private/Public/Lives is an exhibition that identifies a strand of ideas that have consistently informed artist-provocateur Paul Wong’s practice. The selection of recent public art projects presented here, edited and reformatted for gallery viewing, has also been an exercise in unraveling the associations and relational dialogues that emerge when these works are viewed together in a single space.
From early, iconic works such as 60 Unit: Bruise (1976) to his ongoing project Occupying Chinatown (on view here), the artist has foregrounded the personal as political. The ostensibly simple, yet radically vulnerable gesture of making public the private transgressions and encounters of his body/identity has also been a process of queering histories and spaces by exposing what is conventionally marginalized and hidden in the recesses of the everyday. His practice makes obvious that what is considered ‘invisible’, is in fact a refusal to render visible what is in plain sight. This liminal, overlapping relationship between the intimate and the open is made more complex in the work Year of GIF. For the course of one year, the artist engaged in spontaneously documenting and making GIFs of what he encountered around him — photographs, shapes, objects, news stories, and self-reflexive traces of his own process of engaging with the visual medium. Speaking through a format generated on a smartphone for a public that will consume it via isolated interfaces, Year of GIF comments on the conundrum of the age of the social media — where private is public — as perhaps taking a toxic turn through an excess of the possibility of ‘anonymous’, wide, address.
Paul Wong’s interests in cutting edge, inter-disciplinary media as well as traditional media and public space, are also indicative of an interest in language, and the semantic possibilities of various forms of engagement. In Five Octave Range, the artist asserts the universal resonance and appeal of the opera, despite it being limited by access and language. As part of Occupying Chinatown, despite not speaking the language the letters are written in, Wong worked with a translator to decipher the 700 letters written to his mother from various sources in China. Wong exhibited intimate traces of his Chinese heritage on transit shelters across Vancouver to challenge and celebrate a reality that has been pushed to the margins by historical discrimination. Such everyday records also become material in Mother’s Cupboard, where he photographed his mother’s unconscious rewriting of signifiers of mainstream patterns of production and consumption such as jars of mayonnaise and instant coffee by relabeling and refilling them with Chinese herbs and homemade medicines. His installations of these photographs of a quotidian habit in public spaces perform reclamation of disappearing histories.