Chosen by: Grant Arnold, Audain Curator of British Columbia Art at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
“Ken Lum’s Hum, Hum, Hummm is from an extended project titled Portrait-Repeated Texts, in which he has combined large-scale staged situational portraits with repeated phrases on intensely coloured backgrounds. These works generally focus on moments of uncertainty or crisis, in which the text conveys a sense of anger or fear. Hum Hum Hummm is a bit of an exception. Here we see a child (who could be either a boy or a girl) relaxing at the bottom of a wooden staircase, of the kind commonly found in public schoolyards. The cigarette in his/her right hand implies the child is a bit of a delinquent. He/she is perhaps skipping school or avoiding chores that must be faced on arrival at home. Either way, his/her thoughts are unbound by the constraints of necessity, the child has managed – however briefly – to escape the instrumental logic that pervades adult life. For me, the fascination with this work lies in its evocative use of photography and language to call up those all-too-fleeting moments in which one can step outside the rigid and pervasive structures that shape our perceptions of time, our experience of space and the struggle to define the self.”
Ken Lum, Hum, Hum, Hummm, 1994. Chromogenic print, lacquer, enamel on aluminum. Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Gift of Bob Rennie.
Hum, Hum, Hummm is currently on display in the KEN LUM retrospective on the 2nd floor of the Gallery.