I Can't Believe I'm in Paris, 1995-2011
archival inks on arches watercolour paper
edition of 100 - 54.6 cm x 68.6 cm
edition of 5 - 104.1 x 134.6 cm
This edition was produced by Ken Lum in conjunction with his solo exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, on view from February 12 – September 25, 2011.
This work is from a series of repeated text portraits that Lum began to pursue in the 1990s. In this instance, he features a staged image of a smiling woman with a Michelin guide tucked in her arm. She stands on a quay overlooking the Seine River across from the Louvre Museum. Framed by spring blossoms, she wears a heavy coat. There is a scar visible on her left ankle. The repeated text, I can’t believe I’m in Paris, functions as a monologue and suggests her incredulity that she has finally been able to visit the French capital. In this way, the text signifies the woman’s disbelief in terms of achievement. What is implied is that this achievement was hard earned and that it has taken a lifetime of work to reach this point in her life.
Lum works in a variety of media, including sculptures made from rented furniture, photographic portraits combined with faux corporate logos and texts, mazes made of mirrors inscribed with text, and works that mimic the signage affiliated with working class mini-malls.
Ken Lum is one of Canada’s leading international artists. Born in Vancouver in 1956, he studied at Simon Fraser University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1980 and the University of British Columbia, where he completed a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1985. He taught in the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at UBC from 1990 until 2006, and has also taught at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, the Akademie der Bildende Kunst in Munich, the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou and the School of the Arts at Bard College in New York State.
Lum’s work has been widely exhibited since 1978. Solo exhibitions of his work have appeared at Power Plant, Toronto; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Centre for Contemporary Art, Kitakyushu; Kunstmuseum Luzern, Lucerne; Witte de With, Rotterdam; and the Vancouver Art Gallery (including a major installation at Offsite, the Gallery’s new outdoor exhibition space in 2010) among others. He has been represented in prominent international group exhibitions that include the 7th Gwangju Biennale in Gwangju, Korea (2008); the 10th Istanbul Biennale in Istanbul, Turkey (2007); the Liverpool Biennale, Liverpool, England (2006); the 4th Austrian Triennial on Photography in Graz, Austria (2003); Documenta XI in Kassel, Germany (2002); the 49th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2001) the Habana Biennale in Havana, Cuba (2000); the Shanghai Biennale in Shanghai China (2000); the XXIVth Bienal de São Paulo in São Paulo, Brazil (1998); the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale, Johannesburg, South Africa (1997); and the 46th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (1995), among many others.