Paul Chan’s 1st Light

Apr 3, 2021–Aug 1, 2022


Paul Chan. 1st Light. 2005. Digital video (color, silent), 14 min. Acquired through the generosity of Maja Oeri and Hans Bodenmann. © 2021 Paul Chan
  • MoMA, Floor 2, 211 The David Geffen Wing

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.

Organized by Ana Janevski, Curator, Department of Media and Performance, with Lydia Mullin, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture.

1 work online


Installation images

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