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Kenneth Tam: Standing in Soft Formation

About the Exhibition


Jan 24 – Apr 21, 2024

Opening Reception

Jan 24, 6-8pm


Aidekman Arts Center

Through his choreographed video, photography, and sculpture, Kenneth Tam has long explored the myths and performative culture that uphold conventional American expectations of masculinity and identity. Tufts University Art Galleries are proud to present Standing in Soft Formation featuring the artist’s two most recent projects—Silent Spikes (2021) and The Founding of the World (2023)—in dialogue for the first time. Standing in Soft Formation is organized, in part, by Ballroom Marfa.

The two installations explore historical and present-day tropes of Anglo-American masculinity and their impact on Asian American identities first through the invisible migrant labor that fueled the nineteenth-century dream of the American West, and then through the fraught rituals of the college fraternity. Centered around immersive, performative videos that work with groups of non-actor participants, the two projects layer the rigidity and harshness of these male-centric worlds with a focus on creating intimacies and shared vulnerabilities. Together, the installations complicate and counter prevailing sociocultural constructs of American manhood—its heteronormativity, machismo, and white privilege—and the expectations we bring as viewers to such imagery.