Paul Chan included in Collection: 1970s-Present on view at MoMA

Paul Chan. 1st Light. 2005. Digital video (color, silent), 14 min. © 2021 Paul Chan

Paul Chan

1st Light, 2005

MoMA, Floor 2, 211
The David Geffen Wing

April 1, 2021 – Ongoing

1st Light is the first in a series of seven animations titled The 7 Lights (2005–7), in which Paul Chan addresses themes of faith, technology, and politics. Described by the artist as “hallucinating the seven days of creation from dawn to dusk,” the cycle was created using obsolete computer-animation technology and is projected directly on the gallery floor.

Silhouettes of everyday objects and human forms pass across the surface, creating a dystopian shadow play seemingly cast by the light of an unseen window. The shadows of abandoned vehicles, utility poles, cell phones, and other debris ascend, while apparitions of bodies plunge from the sky. Chan’s ghostly, apocalyptic vision confronts us with a parable of terror and salvation that evokes the events of 9/11 and other calamities of the recent past. In the title, “light” is struck out, suggesting its impending absence.

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