Headlands Center for the Arts

Will Kwan

Canada | visual
Artist in Residence Program 2015

Artist Statement

My work seeks to understand how cultural prestige and political authority are produced, regulated, and challenged through visual culture, rhetorical techniques, and social protocols. I explore how this struggle for legitimacy is manifested in diverse phenomena: from the visual culture of banking and judicial systems, intercultural histories that link the yoga industry to colonial planning in India, cultural taxonomies used by the aerospace industry, to the architectural spectacles of ‘nail houses’ used by Chinese citizens to oppose land-grabbing developers. My artworks often parody specific techniques and iconography used by corporate, political, and social elites to perpetuate totalizing myths about economic and global development, law and order, high culture, and cultural Otherness.

While At Headlands

At Headlands, I will be developing a new work that explores the spectrum of social meanings that are encoded in the cultural notion of “a relationship to the land.” Starting from the Marin Headlands, I will examine the shifting value systems used to define the geography of the Marin peninsula as it underwent changes in population and land use from indigenous habitation, to colonial farming, to military site, to today’s more ambiguous functions of recreation and preservation in which schizophrenic cultural values are intertwined in our appreciation, consumption, and ownership of “nature” and place. My project will also explore the cities of the Bay Area, where “a relationship to the land” is manifested in gentrification, locally sourced food, urban homesteading, site-specific art projects, and new forms of territorialization produced through advanced mapping and spatial research in the technology sector.

Selected Works

Personal Website

http://www.studiowillkwan.com