2P Contemporary Art is pleased to present Associated, the debut solo exhibition of work by Hong Kong-born, Toronto-based artist WillKwan in Hong Kong. Kwan’s practice takes a critical view of the visual and material culture of globalization and examines the sociopolitical and cultural consequences of how the ‘global’ is represented. His work is distinguished by its research and theory-based content and is created with the intention of making, in the artist’s words, “a tangible contribution to the knowledge base about culture and society.”
Associated presents an overview of Kwan’s research into the symbols of globalization, nationalism, and geopolitical disjunction. The exhibition opens with an installation on the exterior of the gallery of five Asian flags printed with images of flag-burning protests, referencing a debate over the Muhammed cartoons published in the Jyllands-Posten and other broadsheets in 2005. The cropped news images in Flame Test (2009) confront fixed symbols of national culture as the conventional propaganda of patriotism. Viewing international politics in deterministic terms, Clocks That Do Not Tell the Time (2008) is an installation of clocks with plaques indicating the local time in the peripheral, shadowy, and heterotopic sites of the world’s economic order.
The centerpiece of the exhibition, Study for Associated (2011), presents an endless list of surnames that have been compiled from the names of the world’s largest corporate law firms that reads as a dense network of affluence, a conglomerate of the “establishment.” The convention of naming law practices after partners – or associates – is transformed into an absurd register that depicts the vast uniformity of a field that is involved in enforcing legal regimes that impact every aspect of contemporary society.
Shifting the focus to the art world, Untitled (Art | UN) (2011) is a new text-based work that appropriates Art Basel’s visual identity and modifies the corporate keywords used by the art fair to signal its global, discursive ambitions. The adaptations seek to introduce language that is more ambivalent and critical, describing a possible space for art that can think beyond the current system of legitimization based on visibility, fashion, compliance, and market potential.
About Will Kwan
Kwan was born in 1978 in Hong Kong and completed his MFA from Columbia University in 2004 and from 2005-06 he was a research fellow at the Jan vanEyck Academie, Maastricht, the Netherlands. His work has been exhibited at the 2010 Liverpool Biennial, the 2007 Montreal Biennale, the 2003 Venice Biennale, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, 2005 and Art in General in New York, His recent solo exhibitions include Rhetorical Questions (Two Hundred Euphemisms) at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 2010; A littoral reconstruction at the Power Plant, Toronto, 2008; Displacement (with Chinese characteristics) at Duolun Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai, 2006. His work is currently exhibited in The Global Contemporary: Art Worlds after 1989 at ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art in Karlsruhe, Germany. Kwan is also a lecturer in the Department of Studio Art at the University of Toronto, Scarborough, and in the graduate faculty in the Masters of Visual Studies Programme at the University of Toronto, Ontario.