To make these drawings Chan appropriated erotic texts by personages as diverse as the Marquis de Sade's Bishop X, Monica Lewinsky, and Saint Augustine, assigning excerpts to letters of the alphabet. The resulting digital "fonts" can be downloaded from the artist's Web site, allowing users to generate limitless expressions of desire simply by typing. Sitting atop shoes, these human-scaled drawings lend bodies to the typefaces, bridging the gap between the virtual and the corporeal. The body of Oh Untitled (truetype font), with its horizontal ink strokes, is a sort of blank template for the project, while The body of Oh Marys is inspired by Mary Magdalene's relationships with male figures in the Bible. These belong to a cycle of twenty-one font drawings related to Chan's media installation Sade for Sade's sake (2009).
Gallery label from I Am Still Alive: Politics and Everyday Life in Contemporary Drawing, March 23–September 19, 2011.
To make these drawings, Paul Chan appropriated erotic texts by figures as diverse as the early Christian theologian Saint Augustine, the French novelist Marquis de Sade's libertine character Bishop X, and the infamous White House intern Monica Lewinsky. He assigned short excerpts from these texts to letters of the alphabet, creating new "fonts."
Sitting atop men's and women's shoes, these drawings are human-scaled, which makes the typefaces like bodies and bridges the gap between the virtual and the physical. One is more abstract, while the other is more explicit. The two drawings serve different functions: The body of Oh Untitled (truetype font), with its horizontal ink strokes, is a sort of blank template for the project, while The body of Oh Marys (truetype font) is inspired by Mary Magdalene's relationships with male figures in the Bible. Operating at the junction of politics, poetics, and pornography, Chan's drawings remind us of the close relations between body, desire, and voice.
Gallery label from Unfinished Conversations, March 19-July 30, 2017.