Dan Cameron on Nancy Hwang


Documentation of Nancy Hwang's participation in Free Show, September 2007

This essay related to Nancy's February 2008 show at the Kemper Museum in Kansas City is the best thing I've ever read about her work. James and I are big fans, and really enjoyed reading it. We met her at the bar mentioned in the first paragraph, but she let us have two stools so we could be there together.

A lot of important art starts off as a rumor. Nancy Hwang's career offers the example of an artist whom many people actually haven't heard of, but when you describe a couple of her pieces to them, they suddenly realize they have heard about it before, or at least they think they have. However, because no new objects come into being in the process of Hwang's art, it somehow seems less necessary to pinpoint the precise identity of the artist who created the bar with a single stool, or set up the manicurist station where one's hands are worked on by somebody whose face one never sees. In fact, people who have never experienced her work directly sometimes feel free to embellish what they do know about it with small details of their own. By operating so explicitly outside the conventional boundaries of what constitutes artistic practice, Nancy Hwang now has an entire genre practically all to herself: the artist who creates the piece by being herself in a specified place and time, and who leaves people talking about her after she's gone.

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