Marc Jancou Contemporary is pleased to present works from Ken Lum’s Mini-Mall series for the first exhibition in its new location. Over the course of his thirty-year career, Lum has developed a large and complex body of work that focuses on the complexity of identity formation in both public and private realms. The exhibition will include works shown at the artist’s 2012 survey at the Vancouver Art Gallery as well as new pieces being presented for the first time.
Lum’s Mini-Mall works build upon ideas of subjectivity and community set forth in his earlier Shopkeeper (2000-2009) series, exhibited last year at Jancou in Geneva. The Shopkeeper series comprises individualized sign-like works for fictitious but plausible urban communities marked by immigration flux and economic turmoil. The Mini-Mall series calls attention to community formation within the parameters of the sign form itself. The works point to the diverse and changing ethnic and economic demographics of the neighborhoods to which they serve.
A primary theme of Lum’s work is the articulation of individuality within the constraints of social, political, and economic encodement. The artist is especially interested in imagining the subjectivities present behind the façade of this collective sign form. The specific community of businesses as identified by the mini-mall sign form may be nothing more than a clustering of businesses formed by happenstance. Empty spaces figure prominently in the Mini-Mall works and signify businesses that have yet to appear as well as those that have come and gone. Their precarity is expressed through the artistic trope of negation.
Born in 1956 in Vancouver, Canada, Lum has been exhibiting his work since the late 1970s. He has worked through a variety of media including public performances, sculptures, photographs, paintings, and installations. He was recently appointed Director of the Undergraduate Fine Arts program of the University of Pennsylvania. He is presently working on several public art commissions and is the recipient of a commission for A River Between Us, sponsored by Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis, to be realized this summer.