Kenneth Tam: Standing in Soft Formation
About the Exhibition
DateJan 24 – Apr 21
Opening ReceptionJan 24, 6-8pm
LocationAidekman Arts Center, 40 Talbot Avenue, Medford
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.
Kenneth Tam (b. works across video, sculpture, performance, movement, installation and photography, and makes work about the performance of masculinity, spaces of physical intimacy and the transformative potential of private ritual.
He has had solo exhibitions at Ballroom Marfa, TX; MoCA Tucson, AZ; Queens Museum, NY; Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN; MIT List Center for Visual Arts, MA; the Visual Arts Center at UT Austin, TX; Commonwealth and Council, CA; and ICA LA, CA. Tam has participated in group shows at the Hammer Museum, CA; SculptureCenter, NY and at The Shed, NY.
Tam is currently an Assistant Professor at Rice University and faculty at The Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College and is based in Houston, TX and Queens, NY. He is represented by Commonwealth & Council in Los Angeles.