BATHERS AT NIGHT
Bathers at Night features a new body of work by Paul Chan, which the artist calls “breathers.” The breathers are sculptural works that act like moving images. Each breather is composed of a fabric body, designed by Chan and attached to one or more specially modified fans. Incorporating techniques that combine fashion, drawing and physics, the artist directs the breathers’ movements through the manipulation of their internal architectures, such that they direct the airflow and pressure from the fans to create different types of motion. Simply by the means through which they are shaped and sewn, the breathers can be choreographed in ways unlike anything Chan has created to date. They are physical animations—images moving in all three dimensions.
The figure of the bather has fascinated artists throughout history. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, artists like Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso took up this motif to express evolving notions about the body, one’s relationship to nature, and how longing for the new (in art) creates a broader and more inclusive understanding of what it means to live with or against societal changes. Chan takes up this age-old subject to renew the constellation of themes and ideas that the bather embodies in and for the 21st century. The animated and abstract forms in Bathers at Night call up a range of conflicting associations, such as leisure and survival, privacy and evasion, and freedom and marginality. Perhaps most of all, they evoke the pleasure and thrill of swimming at night, under soft moonlight.
Curated by Gregory Burke, Executive Director & CEO
Paul Chan is an artist who lives in New York. A survey entitled Selected Works was mounted by Schaulager in Basel (2014). His work has been exhibited widely in many international shows including: documenta 13, Kassel (2012); Before The Law, Ludwig Museum in Cologne (2011–2012); Making Worlds, 53rd Venice Biennale (2009); Medium Religion at ZKM, Karlsruhe (2008); Traces du sacré, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2008); 16th Biennale of Sydney (2008); 10th International Istanbul Biennial (2007); and the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of Art, New York (2006). Solo exhibitions include: My Laws are My Whores, The Renaissance Society and the University of Chicago (2009); Paul Chan: Three Easy Pieces, Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge (2008); Paul Chan: The 7, Serpentine Gallery, London and New Museum, New York (2007–2008). Chan is the winner of the Hugo Boss Prize in 2014, a biennial award honoring artists who have made a visionary contribution to contemporary art.
In 2002, Chan was a part of Voices in the Wilderness, an American aid group that broke U.S. sanctions and federal law by working in Baghdad before the U.S. invasion and occupation. In 2004, he garnered police attention for The People's Guide to the Republican National Convention, a free map distributed throughout New York to help protesters to get in or out of the way of the RNC. In 2007, Chan collaborated with the Classical Theatre of Harlem and Creative Time to produce a site-specific outdoor presentation of Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot in New Orleans. Chan’s essays and interviews have appeared in Artforum, Frieze, Flash Art, October, Tate Etc., Parkett, Texte Zur Kunst, Bomb and other magazines and journals. Chan founded Badlands Unlimited in 2010.
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