This June, Multi-Channel Video Installation Reimagines Asian American Identity
Kenneth Tam, Silent Spikes (Tyler).
(NEW YORK, NY — June 1, 2021) — Times Square Arts, The Queens Museum, and Absolut Art are pleased to partner to present artist Kenneth Tam’s Midnight Moment video installation Silent Spikes this June. Midnight Moment is the world’s largest, longest-running digital art exhibition, synchronized on electronic billboards throughout Times Square nightly from 11:57pm to midnight. As part of the presentation, Absolut Art is offering two signed, limited edition prints by Kenneth Tam on absolutart.com and donating $2,500 to Heart of Dinner, a nonprofit collective selected by Tam, which works to fight food insecurity and isolation experienced by Asian American seniors throughout New York City.
Presented across 75+ digital billboards in Times Square every night this June, artist Kenneth Tam’s Midnight Moment Silent Spikes reimagines Asian American identity through performance and movement. Set against a saturated and dream-like backdrop, Silent Spikes features Asian American men of various ages and backgrounds dressed in iconic American cowboy garb, mimicking the movements of a bull rider in slow-motion. The figure of the cowboy looms large within the American popular consciousness and continues to function as shorthand for a kind of idealized white Western masculinity.
Using the power of cinema and the iconography of the Western film genre, Silent Spikes inserts Asian American men into a space from which they have traditionally been excluded and asks viewers to question how mythologized conceptions of America’s past continue to shape ideas about the performance of race and gender today.
“By having Asian men step into this role, I pose the question of who has access to embody these characters and the larger ideas they represent. At the same time, how can movement be used to change how we understand these figures?” asks Kenneth Tam.
“We are proud to be working with both the Queens Museum and Absolut Art to amplify Kenneth Tam’s timely, visually striking artwork on such an epic scale and accessible public stage. Times Square is a dynamic space for Tam to interrogate the enduring power of the moving image and the iconography of Western ideals,” said Times Square Arts Director Jean Cooney.
Silent Spikes is presented in partnership with The Queens Museum, where Tam’s solo exhibition of the same title is on view through June 23, 2021. Organized by Queens Museum Assistant Curator Sophia Marisa Lucas, Kenneth Tam: Silent Spikes features new video and sculpture work that reflects upon the entangled histories of Westward expansion and immigration in the U.S. by working collaboratively with contemporary subjects of the Asian Diaspora. This work was made possible by the Queens Museum with support from the Asian Art Circle at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
“Tam’s work is especially moving at a moment when we’ve all had to consider the importance of intimacy to collective well-being, and critically—what it really means to be seen and cared for. I can’t think of a better circumstance than for this work to be on view in its enveloping entirety at the Queens Museum, while also featured on the stage of Times Square for thousands more to connect to,” said Queens Museum Assistant Curator Sophia Marisa Lucas.
Tam’s Midnight Moment is also presented in partnership with limited edition print platform Absolut Art, which is offering two still images from Silent Spikes — Silent Spikes (Tyler) and Silent Spikes (Virgo) — in signed, limited editions of 25 prints. Priced at $500 each, the prints are available exclusively on absolutart.com.
“Making art accessible is at the core of Absolut Art’s mission so we’re thrilled to share Kenneth Tam’s thought-provoking work on a platform as significant as Times Square. We hope that it will help make space for crucial conversation surrounding race, gender identity, and the Asian American experience,” said Absolut Art CEO Nahema Mehta.
“At Absolut Art we are huge admirers of Kenneth Tam and his explorations of everyday performance. Kenneth is also doing such important work as an activist in the Asian American community, and we are proud to support a cause close to his heart,” said Absolut Art Global Creative Director Michelle Grey.
Kenneth Tam (b.1982) works in video, sculpture, installation, and photography, using the male body as a starting point for discussions about performance, physical intimacy, vulnerability, and private ritual. Tam received his BFA from the Cooper Union, and his MFA from the University of Southern California. He has had solo exhibitions at the Minneapolis Institute of Art; MIT List Center for Visual Arts; the Visual Arts Center at UT Austin, Commonwealth and Council, LA; Night Gallery, LA; and will be presenting Silent Spikes at the ICA LA this summer. Tam has participated in group shows at 47 Canal, NY; Hollybush Gardens, London; the Hammer Museum, LA; InPractice at SculptureCenter, Queens and will be part of The Shed’s Open Call this summer. He has participated in residencies including Artist Lab at 18th Street Arts Center; LMCC Workspace; The Core Residency Program at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Pioneer Works; and at The Kitchen. Tam is currently a Lecturer at Princeton University and faculty at Bard MFA. He was born in Queens, and lives and works in Brooklyn.
Qi (Tyler) York Chen
Director of Photography
ABOUT TIMES SQUARE ARTS
Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, collaborates with contemporary artists and cultural institutions to experiment and engage with one of the world's most iconic urban places. Through the Square's electronic billboards, public plazas, vacant areas and popular venues, and the Alliance's own online landscape, Times Square Arts invites leading contemporary creators to help the public see Times Square in new ways. Times Square has always been a place of risk, innovation and creativity, and the Arts Program ensures these qualities remain central to the district's unique identity. Generous support of Times Square Arts is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts; the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Additional support for Midnight Moment is provided by the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Times Square Advertising Coalition. Visit TSq.org/Arts for more information. Follow us on Instagram at @TSqArts.
ABOUT THE QUEENS MUSEUM
The Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park features contemporary art, events of hyperlocal and international impact, and educational programs reflecting the diversity of Queens and New York City. Changing exhibitions present the work of emerging and established artists, both local and global, that often explore contemporary social issues, as well as the rich history of its site. The Museum works outside its walls through engagement initiatives ranging from multilingual outreach and educational opportunities for adult immigrants, to a plethora of community led art and activism projects. The Queens Museum is located on property owned in full by the City of New York, and its operation is made possible in part by public funds provided through the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Major funding for the Queens Museum is generously provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the Lambent Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Bank of America.
ABOUT ABSOLUT ART
Absolut Art works with emerging and established artists around the world to develop curated, signed limited edition prints. Building on Absolut’s thirty-year involvement with contemporary art (from Warhol to Damien Hirst, Keith Haring and Louise Bourgeois), the goal of their global platform is to expand access to contemporary art, support local artist communities, and democratize the art buying process. Recently Absolut Art has collaborated with Kehinde Wiley, Shantell Martin, Miranda July, Lawrence Weiner, Hank Willis Thomas, Mona Chalabi, Brigitte Lacombe, Joy Yamusangie, Yashua Klos, The Wu-Tang Clan, NADA, UTA Artist Space, Metrograph Cinema, and more. Visit absolutart.com for more information.
Senior Account Executive, Cultural Counsel
Communications Director, Absolut Art