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Installation View #1
Photos: Bill Orcutt

© ArtNet Worldwide 1997

Photo Mirror: soccer kids, 1997

© ArtNet Worldwide 1997

new york reviews
by joan kee

Ken Lum
at Andrea Rosen

Jan. 31-Mar. 8, 1997

Although Chinese-Canadian artist Ken Lum's works have centered upon the interplay between words and visual images, his latest work challenges the idea of the personal. The work consists of a series of framed mirrors with photographs nonchalantly tucked into their edges. The mirrors vary in size from diminutive over-the-hallway mirrors to generous cheval-length mirrors. Placed along adjacent walls, the reflections they produce create the illusion of multiple rooms leading into an infinte number of other chambers. Unlike the stagey tableau-like photographs of Lum's earlier works, the photographs are often candid and casual snapshots of intimate get-togethers, picnics or parties.

Yet these obvious indicators of the personal are offset by the relentless Minimalist repetition of the severe, rectangular mirrors. Identical except for size, the repetition negates and sterilizes the apparent personal significance of the work. Moreover, only a handful of photographs capture the artist's own image and the other photographs merely delineate the idea of "personal" as they bear no relation to other. Indeed, Lum seems to say that the personal nature of the works stems from the viewer--when you ostensibly look at the works, you look at your own reflected image. The work casts doubt on the idea of the personal through its ambiguity which subsequently compels the viewer to question what "personal" really means after all.

Andrea Rosen Gallery, 130 Prince Street, New York, N.Y. 10012.