Ken Lum - 1956
The Canadian artist Ken Lum achieved recognition in the second half of the 1980s for his works juxtaposing photographic portraits and texts. His billboard-style presentation employs techniques from the world of advertising. Lum developed a successful formula of combining words and images, and a direct, confrontational manner of addressing the viewer. In the series “There Is No Place Like Home”; he shows a photographic image of a white woman with the slogan: “Wow, I really like it here. I don’t think I ever want to go home!”.
Another billboard in this series shows a Muslim woman with a headscarf with the text: “I’m never made to feel at home here. I don’t feel at home here.” The viewer is left to consider the connections between the words and images, which raise numerous questions, for example about the women’s identities: is the artist quoting these women or has he simply combined text and image in a random fashion? Are the situations constructed or taken from real life? Lum plays with issues concerning identity, race and gender.
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