Wong60Units Laiwan, 60 Unit: Bruise, 1976.

Paul Wong

 

Chosen by: Laiwan, Artist

 

“Paul Wong was the first queer Asian artist I learnt about after art school in the early 80s. I was introduced to his work at Video In (of which he was a founding director) when it was located in Japantown on Powell Street. There I witnessed his tenacious passion and conviction, his unique sense of vision and initiative, his high energy and enthusiasm, his drama and spectacle – all done with a flair and enthusiasm that is pure Paul Wong.

I felt he was blazing a trail for me as a queer Asian, even though our art practices were on different trajectories. My training in minimalism and conceptualism countered much of Paul’s approach but I highly respected his courage, innocence and the integrity of his practice, and I learnt to appreciate and value his diversity, his sense of risk, his trust in the creative process in building community. 

As video artist Richard Fung writes, ‘six years before ‘gay cancer’ was reported, and almost a decade before the identification of HIV, 60 Unit: Bruise portrays a homoerotic blood-brother ritual with allusions to drug culture. But from a vantage point of two decades into the AIDS crisis, when new strains of hepatitis are constantly being identified, the audacity of its play between youth and decadence, pleasure and danger, becomes a document of irretrievable innocence. It evokes nostalgia for a present no longer possible.’ *

60 Unit: Bruise shocked me when I saw it and it still does, it opens my mind to a sense of compassion seeing the risks Paul took in the name of friendship and art.”

 

Paul Wong, 60 Unit: Bruise, 1976. Video. Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver Art Gallery Acquisition Fund. Paul Wong’s work Confused: Sexual Views will be displayed in the upcoming exhibition An Autobiography of Our Collection. 

Laiwan is an interdisciplinary artist in Vancouver and one of thousands of people who follow the Gallery on Facebook. Her work was exhibited in Everything Everyday (2010) and How Soon is Now (2009). 


*Richard Fung. “Future Past” Magnetic North: Canadian Experimental Video. Ed. Jenny Lion. Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 2000. p. 38.


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