Location: Cockerillkaai, 2000 Antwerp
For this exhibition in the public space of Antwerp, artist Ken Lum (1956, Canada) creates a new series of billboards that question our relationship to work. Work is one of the few truly common aspects of human life, it is a necessity, and a source of pride and self-worth. But all too often, also a source of uncertainty and stress. The people portrayed in these new works are representative of what Ken Lum recognizes as “persons who are inheritors of the contradictory and too often pernicious effects of modernity. The contemporaneity they find themselves in is often oppressive and the characters have to struggle against it, often feebly.”
By observing working men and women, Lum reveals the often merciless nature of corporatism and capitalism. And yet, there is a humanity to these works, due to the fact that we recognise ourselves in the people shown. While each individual is portrayed in relative isolation, Ken Lum tells us we are not alone in our dealings with everyday struggles.
In this and other series by the artist, text and image together invite us to look differently at the other, and so, at ourselves. Lum’s work shows that the line between the recognisable and the cliché or the stereotype is a thin one. The contrast or tension between what we see and what we read makes us question prejudices about identity and offers us alternatives that expand the field of public imagination and representation.
This new body of work is titled Time. And Again., evoking time as a fundamental horizon of human life. Not so much linear time but circular time: in our lives, we often encounter the same concerns over and over. Repetition is also stylistically present in the writing of the short texts included in each new work. Like a mantra or a prayer, through repeated phases each individual tries to come to terms with what they are feeling.
Curated by Samuel Saelemakers, curator of the Public Art Collection of Antwerp