Ken Lum: The Real Deal
Through the course of Ken Lum’s now-iconic 1978 performance video Entertainment for Surrey, the artist stands on an embankment beside a suburban highway as cars speed past. It’s difficult to know exactly what these rush-hour commuters might have made of Lum's activity. As Lum tells it, there was non-stop car-horn honking until drivers got used to his presence and then mostly ignored him. (For the last day of his roadside vigil, he replaced himself with a cardboard cut-out.) Nonetheless, Lum’s strategy—wryly confronting the fast-lane status quo of modernity and identity from the margins—is one that has marked his work ever since.
In our spring issue feature “Road to Somewhere,” Vancouver writer Danielle Egan tracks the path of Lum’s work and ideas from his immigrant, working-class, East Vancouver roots to his international reputation as an uncompromising artist, writer, curator and thinker. Here, a selection of images follows that same route, from Entertainment for Surrey to Lum’s latest large-scale public installations in East Vancouver and Utrecht, and it includes a sneak peek at one of his newest works, The Path from Emptiness to Fulfillment, that will debut in Paris this April.