Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)
Known for innovations in new media, which often examine contemporary issues through the lens of classical philosophy, Paul Chan is an artist, writer and publisher who practices political and cultural activism in multiple formats.
For this Morris Gallery installation, Chan’s sculptural animation Pillowsophia (after Ghostface) is presented alongside his new poem written with Badlands Unlimited, an independent art book publisher founded in 2010 by Chan, titled “New No’s.”
Modeled on the inflatable fluttering figures often seen at car dealerships, Pillowsophia evokes in a novel animated form metaphors of violence and sacrifice, and uses the symbol of the hoodie as a visual and conceptual anchor. “New No’s," Badlands Unlimited’s response to the 2016 presidential election, firmly connects this violence to the current political moment and powerfully declares the writer’s stand against racism and discrimination.”
Pillowsophia—a hollow nylon armature activated by industrial fans at its base—follows a series of recent works by Chan, which aim to liberate the animated image from the confines of the screen and into three dimensions. Surrounded by concrete-filled sneakers outfitted with electrical plugs and long cords, the nylon forms’ movements—alternately tormented and ecstatic—are specifically choreographed using strategies from physics and patternmaking, while their conceptual basis draws from Greek philosophical traditions linking breath with consciousness.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.