The writings in this book developed out of my belief that the importance of art lies in its relationship to the world as we live it. One of my interests as an artist and teacher is how institutions today frame art in ways that ignore or subjugate the question of difference. This question is one that has propelled me as an artist since I first began making art in the late 1970s. I have also been interested in the ways that art is defined and circulated in different places in the world.
These interests are why I have committed so much of my time to working on projects abroad that expand on what constitutes artists and their production. This has meant following a career that encompasses not only art making but also art teaching, art writing, art publishing, and art curating. The collection of texts contained within this book represent the many ways I have tried to expand my knowledge of art and its intersection with social, political, and economic realities specific to the histories of a given place. I have found the task of gaining such knowledge essential to my own approach to understanding art.
I first want to thank my late and beloved mother, Jane Lum, who instilled in me the best of whom I could be. I also want to thank Okwui Enwezor, Chen Zhen, Hubert Damisch, Pearl Gould, Grita Insam, Robert Linsley, and Philip Nelson. These dear friends are no longer alive but they opened my eyes to looking at the world around me in new and important ways. They believed in me and I am forever grateful to them for this. I also want to thank Paul Farber of Monument Lab, with whom I have had countless thoughtful exchanges.
The idea for a book of my writings was first proposed by Hans-Ulrich Obrist, to whom I offer my gratitude.
Thank you so much to Cornelia Lauf, one of the kindest and smartest persons I know. Many thanks to Dan Graham, Joseph Kosuth, and Ian Wallace for their magnanimity. I am grateful to Yves Michaud, Jenni Lomax, Sacha Craddock, and Roland Schoeny. I owe immense gratitude to Zheng Shengtian, who has taught me so much not only about Chinese society but also about myself.
I extend my thanks to Lothar Albrecht, Chris Dercon, Hou Hanru, Christian Nagel, Rick Royale, Misa Shin, and Pauline Yao.
I cannot thank enough Kitty Scott for her guidance and support. And I thank Rick Rhodes for giving me so many opportunities to write.
Thanks to Geoffrey Robert Little at Concordia University Press, with whom it has been a pleasure to collaborate on this book. Thanks to Amy Lam, Meredith Carruthers, and Edwin Janzen for their excellent copy editing.
Finally, I would like to thank my wife, Paloma, and our children, Linus and Linnea. This book is dedicated to them.