Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Visual Arts 2006

Paul Chan

A black and white portrait of Paul Chan within an empty room with three columns. He crosses his arms over his chest and looks up towards a circle of light on the ceiling. He has short dark hair and wears a black sweater, dark jeans, and carries a white bag.
  • 2006 Grants to Artists
  • Visual Arts
  • Visual Artist
  • Born Hong Kong, 1973
  • Lives in Brooklyn, NY

...the grant helped me maintain my studio, which is home to all of my work and time spent thinking about work. This place, like no other, affords me both time and solitude. I'm grateful for the grant allowing me this kind of luxury. It is in fact a luxury, but one I am willing to give up almost anything for.

- Paul Chan, March 21, 2007

Artist Statement

My work reminds me of what Karl Kraus wrote:

In the realm of poverty of imagination where people die of spiritual famine without feeling spiritual hunger, where pens are dipped in blood and swords in ink, that which is not thought must be done, but that which is only thought is unutterable. Expect no words of my own from me. Nor would I be able to say anything new, for in the room in which one writes there is such noise, and at this time one should not determine whether it comes from animals, from children, or merely from mortars. He who encourages deeds with words desecrates words and deeds and is doubly despicable.

- December 2005


Paul Chan is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice involves sculpture, writing, animated video, light projection, and community-based performance.

In 2002, Chan was a part of Voices in the Wilderness, an American aid group that broke U.S. sanctions and federal law by working in Baghdad before the U.S. invasion and occupation. In 2004, he garnered police attention for The People's Guide to the Republican National Convention, a free map distributed throughout New York to help protesters to get in or out of the way of the Republican National Convention. Prior to his 2006 Grants to Artists award, Chan's work had been the subject of solo exhibitions and screenings at venues including The Museum of Modern Art Film at the Gramercy Theater, Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, and Hammer Museum at University of California, Los Angeles.

With funds from his 2006 FCA grant, Chan launched a new version of his website,, which became In 2010, Chan founded Badlands Unlimited, a press devoted to publishing artists writings and writings about art in paper and digital forms. In 2007, Chan collaborated with the Classical Theatre of Harlem and Creative Time to produce a site-specific outdoor presentation of Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot in New Orleans. In 2014, Chan presented a survey exhibition entitled Selected Works that was mounted by Schaulager in Basel, Switzerland.

Since receiving his 2006 Grants to Artists award, solo exhibitions of Chan's work have been held at the New Museum, Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Serpentine Gallery in London, and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Chan's essays and interviews have appeared in Artforum, Frieze, Flash Art, October, Tate Etc., Parkett, Texte Zur Kunst, BOMB Magazine, and other magazines and journals. His work has also been featured in exhibitions internationally, including the Whitney Biennial (2006); 10th International Istanbul Biennial (2007); Yokohama Triennial (2008), Japan; 16th Biennale of Sydney (2008); Making Worlds, 53rd Venice Biennale (2009); The Quick and the Dead (2009), Walker Art Center; Haunted (2010) and Found in Translation (2011), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel; Seeing Is Believing (2011), KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; and I Am Still Alive: Politics and Everyday Life in Contemporary Drawing (2011), The Museum of Modern Art.

Subsequent to his 2006 FCA grant, Chan received the 2014 Hugo Boss Prize administered by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

He received a B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1996 and an M.F.A. from Bard College in 2002.

A telephone wire pole is depicted in black against a yellow and orange background. Numerous wires and black spots emanate off of the pole. In the upper right, there is a circle of bright light.
Detail from FCA-supported 1st Light, 2005, digital animation, installation.
In a bare, grey room, a blue light is projected onto the floor. The light is interrupted by numerous, differently angled and sized shadows of a telephone pole, various wires, a small bicycle, and a street light.
FCA-supported 1st Light, 2005, digital animation, installation.
A charcoal drawing of a vulture from a sideways angle. The background is unevenly colored in with various evident smudges that are darker beneath the vulture and brighter by the vulture's head.
The eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, the red kite, any kind of black kite, any kind of raven, the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat. -- Leviticus, 11:13-19, 2004, 21 drawings, charcoal on paper, 13” X 19.”
An image of a bare, grey tree with numerous multicolored shoes tied onto it. Beside the tree, there is a vulture, seagull, and a white dog which lays on its side with its tongue out. The ground is bright red and covered in pebbles. Short mountains of the same bright red are in the background. The sky is pink near the ground and blue on the top of the image.
My birds…trash…the future, 2004, digital animated installation.
An image of a grey bare tree with numerous birds on top of it. A few other birds are on the red, pebbled ground. The pixelated sky is yellow towards the ground, then red, and blue at the top of the image.
My birds…trash…the future, 2004, digital animated installation.
A crowded website page with numerous book covers overlayed on top of one another. Some titles include:
Screen grab, FCA-supported Badlands Unlimited website.