I saw Paul Chan speak today at the Berkeley Art Museum. Every once in a while I see someone speak who I really feel I can learn something from, and this was one of those occasions.
He was younger than I expected him to be. There is a quietness, maturity, and depth in his work that I just assumed would belong to someone with gray in their hair. I'm not sure why. Maybe because it seems to take people a while to settle and be willing to express sincere sentiments. It is not always fashionable to have heart and make work with a measure of depth and intimacy; and it is certainly not easy to do so without coming off as cheesy or contrived. Maybe that's the point. From listening to Chan talk today, hearing his responses to questions and explanations of his work - I don't think he is trying to make work that has heart, depth, and intimacy. I think that he has those qualities, and he is just making the work that he wants to make, the work that is right for him to make. And his work, because it is a reflection of him, possesses those qualities...
Hear Chan talk about his work, his inspirations, and about his project The 7 Lights. ("Lights" is supposed to be crossed out in the official title, but I couldn't get blogger to do it... note the official title in the video, and the use of crossing out words in the text pieces on his website):
with Hans Ulrich Obrist of Serpentine Gallery
Check out his website National Philistine. You'll encounter text pieces, free audiobooks, free fonts, radio, and lots more: