And To Thy Rest: Leif Pan
Identity, in its simplest form, is the product of genealogical, communal, and environmental contingencies. Within the narratives and histories produced by these official records, we construct a sense of selfhood by equilibrating necessity and will, our interiority and the demands of a shared social reality.
The identity I performed as a young artist adopted normative standards of masculinity and culture in order to function in local art circles. He was the offspring of cultural amnesia cloaked in general intellect - nurtured on morality and sentiment, thrust outwards into the world by internalized colonialism. As a Chinese artist he was designed to toe the line of coded masculinity: a heteronormative, yet egalitarian entity, not too flashy for locals, not too dissonant for tourists. Functioning in a conservative art market, his destiny was to be torn between dialectics of marginality and xenocentrism. He navigated a life of "passing" in an art world where sustained banality passes for universal values.
These contingencies are cast aside as my life as an artist becomes increasingly augmented by necessity. The internet has become an almost universal techne for curation logistics and communication. It has also become the final destiny for all exhibitions and press. As cultural workers, we are all archived, sorted, coded and analyzed by opaque algorithms - the cybernetic helpers of capital, the mediators of our frayed attention, and the levers regulating the global production of content in which we all inevitably participate. In this show, I have chosen to hijack this tool to create uncanny communities, appropriating the tools of cybernetic Empire in an act of self-determination.
When we enter into an uncanny community, we shed our skin as a locally bounded and habitually determined entity, designated by enlightenment-based categories and colonial interpellation. In this process, I remain critical of the weightlessness promised by contemporary neoliberalism, using my ex-tended body as a way to excavate / interrogate my own roots as well as those of the colonial influence still prevalent in both the contemporary art world and the way we parse the realities around us every day. Of course, the burden of global capital pervades these communities as well - for example, it is noteworthy that the formal conventions which I've chosen to use in my practice have matched me only with works created in American and European geographies) - but the gesture stands as a rite of passage and signals a starting point. It is a lyrical performance of reckoning what is past and grappling with what is to come in a world primarily composed of fissures, gaps, and tenuous stability.
The works displayed in this show are images which appeared when I Googled my own given name. This prompted me to question the nature of what adheres to us, sometimes without our knowledge, as we carve out our path through life. I was able to identify some of the works' sources and invite their authors to participate; others remain anonymous and are reproduced with my gratitude. As pallbearers of a previous identity or celebrants at the birth of a new one, they have joined me through chance, through patterning, through algorithmically determined habitus - and now, as uncanny kin.
With this show, I enter into new forms of community - and lay to rest the constructed identity of my former self.