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Artist and Curator in Conversation: Paul Chan and Elizabeth Thomas

MATRIX 30th Anniversary Event


February 8, 2009; 44 Minutes; Audio

Paul Chan has produced some of the most iconic and politically charged art of this decade. His practice is formally and materially diverse, but evinces a unifying interest in themes of human motivation—power, perversion, transgression, empathy, and redemption. He looks to politics, history, philosophy, spirituality, and common culture as both inspiration and fodder. Chan’s interest in politics is intimated in his work as an artist and expressed more explicitly through activist efforts and a parallel practice in experimental documentaries.

Among Chan’s recent works was a production of Waiting for Godot performed in the streets of New Orleans in 2007, amidst a landscape still scarred by fallout from Hurricane Katrina—echoing, amplifying, and transforming the themes of nothingness and nonarrival in the play. This was a large-scale collaborative act that also involved a wide range of related activities including workshops, community meetings, and other forms of engaged participation.

Elizabeth Thomas has served as Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator since 2007. This is the last in a series of conversations bringing together artists and curators from the past and present of the MATRIX program in celebration of its thirtieth year. Paul Chan’s MATRIX project, a new commission originally planned for 2009, has been rescheduled for 2010.