Paul Chan: Breathers is the first major US-based museum exhibition of works by artist, writer, and publisher Paul Chan in 15 years. Chan, who was recently awarded the prestigious 2022 MacArthur Fellowship, came to prominence in the early 2000s with vibrant moving image works that touched on aspects of war, religion, pleasure, and politics. Around 2009, Chan embarked on what he described as a “breather” from the art world, turning his attention to experimental publishing by founding the press Badlands Unlimited. This exhibition traces the artist’s return to art-making through approximately 40 works and suites of objects, including a new installation made especially for the Walker. Together, the featured works capture Chan’s creative and conceptual innovations, from his publishing through to his current experimentations with the boundless possibilities of the moving image.
Organized in three chapters, the presentation features radical publications produced by Badlands Unlimited, including selections of paperbacks, e-books, zines, GIFs, protest signs, and books on stone tablets across such genres as erotic fiction, artists’ writings, philosophy, and poetry. Badlands Unlimited was established in 2010 with the vision to challenge and expand the possibilities of publishing through experimentation with language, technology, design, and networks of circulation.