Everything is Relevant
Writings on Art and Life, 1991-2018
Ken Lum is arguably one of Canada’s most important contemporary artists. Born and raised in Vancouver, Lum now lives in the Philadelphia area, where he is Chair of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design. He works across painting, sculpture, and photography and many of his public pieces, including Melly Shum Hates Her Job and Monument for East Vancouver, have achieved iconic status. Since the early 1990s Lum has had an active and diverse writing practice. This collection brings together scattered texts including diary entries, articles, catalogue essays, lectures, curatorial interventions, and more, illuminating Lum’s development as an artist, teacher, scholar, and curator. Kitty Scott, Carol and Morton Rapp Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the AGO, and the co-curator of a 2001-02 retrospective at the National Gallery of Canada of Lum’s photography, has written an introduction that provides context, background, and a lens through which to read Lum’s texts. Penetrating, insightful, and often moving, Ken Lum’s writings explore not just his practice, but contemporary art as well as questions of belonging, race, cultural nationalism, gentrification, and the role of the artist in an ever-changing world. Everything is Relevant: Writings on Art and Life, 1991-2018 is required reading for anyone interested in Lum and in the international art scene over the last thirty years.
While the writings in this volume obliquely elucidate the thinking process that informs Ken Lum's artistic production and provide interesting interpretations of the art of the artists they feature, they also represent contemporary art’s gasping for air in the context of the increasing pressure from what in the past thirty or so years has come to be defined as the globalization of the art world. As such, the texts stand as important historical documents of what was at stake in art in the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries.
Lum is a keen and prescient observer of the art world and of global society more broadly. He is one of the most significant art writers of our time.
Vancouver-born artist Ken Lum is known for his conceptual and representational art in a number of media, including painting, sculpture, and photography. He currently is the Chair of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design and he previously taught at Bard College and at the University of British Columbia. As an artist, he has exhibited at Documenta 11, the Venice Biennale, Shanghai Biennale, Carnegie International, and Whitney Biennial, among others. He is a co-founder and founding editor of Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art and in 2000 he worked as co-editor of the Shanghai Biennale. He is co-curator of Monument Lab: A Public Art and History Project in Philadelphia. In 2017, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Kitty Scott is Carol and Morton Rapp Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
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