Slide courtesy of Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc.

Fountain (1999)

Patty Chang addresses standards of beauty, representations of Asian women, and the politics of the male gaze in Fountain (1999). Throughout the performance, Chang stares into a mirror while drinking water from her reflection. To create the imagery in the video recording, she reverses the orientation of the performance footage captured on camera. By displaying the footage vertically (as seen in the preserved video documentation)––rather than horizontally as it was initially shot—Chang creates an illusion of herself drinking water from an upright mirror. Positioning the footage this way flips the visual plane and reshapes the viewer’s perception of the performance recording. Chang’s Fountain was intended to be part of Franklin Furnace’s History of the Future (1999) netcast on Pseudo Programs, Inc.’s the Performance Channel. However, the corporation went bankrupt during the height of the culture wars, leaving the performance footage in the artist’s possession until it was preserved by the Hemispheric Institute Digital Video Library.

PATTY CHANG explores gender, language, and empathy through a performative art practice. Predominantly working in video, Chang uses the medium to document her performances, often utilizing the camera’s potential to misrepresent. Her works challenge the viewer’s perception of what they may see, frequently creating visual sleights of hand that highlight fantastical representations of “Asia.” Chang’s artwork has been exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum, New Museum, Hammer Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Hamburg Kunstverein, and Moderna Museet, among other venues. She was nominated for the Hugo Boss Prize (2008), named the Guna S. Mundheim Fellow of Visual Arts at the American Academy in Berlin (2009), and received the Guggenheim Fellowship (2014).