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Whitehot Recommends: Lunations at Harper's Chelsea 534

Ian Faden, And the Band Played On. Courtesy of the artist and Harper's, New York.

Lily Wong and Ian Faden: Lunations

Harper's Chelsea 534

July 15 through August 14, 2021 

By WM, July 2021 

From the press release:  

Harper’s is pleased to present Lunations, an exhibition of new paintings and works on paper by Lily Wong and Ian Faden. Harper’s Chelsea 534 is open to the public from 10am to 6pm Tuesday through Sunday.

The conversation between Wong and Faden is one among natural complements and counterparts. While the two artists each have their own idiosyncratic themes and styles, both make allusions to time and space outside of the ticking clock of late-stage capitalism and the heteronormative gaze. Here, time slows down and holds space for collective grief; it rewinds and interrogates the circumstances that brought us here, and questions where exactly we all think we are going so fast.  

Wong’s palette is as mercurial as it is dreamy, inspired by the vivid and poetic images of Wong Kar-wai. The tones work in concert to lure the viewer into the works, in turn challenging perceptions of scale and the passage of time. Motifs such as the dripping veil repeat throughout her paintings alongside mysterious figures, hinting at elusive and uncanny narratives. Wong’s chimerical compositions reference Yoshitoshi’s print series, 100 Aspects of the Moon, which features lunar mythologies such as the East Asian folklore of the Jade Rabbit, who is said to be the companion of the moon Goddess Chang’e. Reinterpreting this ancient myth, Wong’s goddess fragments her perceived monolithic identity and questions the notions of belonging and self.

Charged with multi-dimensional movement, Faden’s work plays in a field of disembodiment, duplicity, and unrelenting exuberance in the face of threats from both visible and invisible death machines. Images of queer joy in Faden’s expansive desert are as much a comment on the parallels between the COVID pandemic and the AIDS epidemic as they are a defiant testimony of the waxing and waning realities of vulnerable communities. Referencing the title of Randy Shilts’s 1987 book, And the Band Played on: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, Faden’s figures also continue on, seemingly ill-fated again in the midst of unchanging circumstances.   

Lunations leaves the viewer with a sense of interconnectedness that might feel a bit alarming or new—like surviving a bizarre, not-so-natural disaster, then abruptly returning to so-called normalcy. WM


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