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Paul Chan on his New Proverbs

Paul Chan on his New Proverbs

Paul Chan is no stranger to political activism. From the outset of his career, The Hong Kong born, US based artist has used his practice to address central issues to US politics like America’s involvement in the Middle East, the policies of former president George  W. Bush, and the actions of the Republican party. In 2010, the artist founded Badlands Unlimited with the mission of publishing things the public has never seen before, like limited edition artworks, downloadable files and paperback erotica. In the Spring of 2017, the publishing house released Chan’s latest venture into the world of political activism, a series of posters designed to protest Donald Trump’s administration. Called New Proverbs, the signs brilliantly parody the Westboro Church’s infamous “God Hates Fags” posters, and introduces much improved slogans like “Fags Hate Trump”, “Jesus Hates Trump” and “God Hates Ivanka”. To mark the project’s recent inclusion in the Tom of Finland universe (the work can now be purchased via Tom of Finland Store), we caught up with the artist to learn more about his vividly provocative protest signs.


How did you first come up with the idea to make these signs?

We were at the Badlands office a month before the first women’s march in Washington DC and New York, thinking about what we could make for our friends to carry as signs. We were angry. We were raging. And we wanted to make something that expressed just how angry and fed up and colorful we are. So.

Why did you choose to have the signs mirror the aesthetic style of the infamous Westboro Church signs?

Because it works.

It’s definitely a smart parody. What have people's reactions been like?

Depends. Mostly people hate them. But those people are either racists, fascists, nativists, homophobic, sexist, have no sense of humor, or are cowards. So.

Exactly! Specifically people with no sense of humor. Is your intention for people to use these as protest signs or for them to be exhibited as works of art?

We just make them. We don’t care what people do with them.

Do you have a favorite slogan?

Eat Ass Pray Love is a good positive slogan we’re proud of making. We also have one that says Trump Loves Rape. Cuz true. So.

Eat Ass Pray Love is a beautiful slogan! What role do you believe art should and can play during periods of political turmoil?

It can play the axe that breaks the frozen sea within us.  



Has the political crisis influenced your current practice? Do you feel a renewed purpose to produce more art that's explicitly political?

It's more the case that we find purpose in making and publishing what we think is worthy of spending the time making, whether or not it is explicit, political or art.

What are you working on at the moment?

Releasing a remarkable new book we just published on the late great Craig Owens. The book is called Craig Owens: Portrait of a Young Critic.

What projects does Badlands have on the horizon?

Remaining solvent!


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