Ho Tam The Greatest Stories Ever Told

Paul Petro Contemporary Art ⁠ accessible_forward
980 Queen St W
Apr 1–May 7
    Ho Tam, The Ho-Lee Family, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Paul Petro Contemporary Art

In this exhibition, Vancouver-based artist and independent publisher Ho Tam presents a series of collage-based works emerging from his fascination with the engraved illustrations on bank notes, and their loaded symbolism. In a playful yet critical intervention, Tam cuts and splices graphic elements found on currencies from around the world, remixing nationalistic signifiers to deflate their implicit power while proposing new possibilities.

In the following artist statement, Tam explains his motivations, his process, and the meanings behind his composite works.

“In order to make the collages, I collected images from international banknotes for two years before the actual creative process. Besides the “face values,” I am also interested in all the symbols and landscapes in the backgrounds, which represent the different countries. These representations are often one-sided, chosen from the point of view of the people in office. As money is directly connected to power in many contexts, the collages became an exploration of issues such as the imbalance in wealth distribution and the inequality among us.

“By making collages based on images extracted from banknotes, I try to liberate the images from their original contexts to create new narratives and commentaries that reflect on the relationships between the world and us. The collages are naïve, juvenile, strange, poignant and sometimes just foolish. Imagining a universe without limitations, they are my attempt to alter our existing concept of power in search of possibilities and contemplation.”

Presented by Paul Petro Contemporary Art

Ho Tam (b. Hong Kong) is a media/visual artist who has worked in advertising and community psychiatry. He received a BA from McMaster University and an MFA from Bard College (NY). Tam has exhibited in public galleries and alternative spaces across Canada, including the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (2001) and has had two survey exhibitions, A Portrait of the Photographer, Paul Petro Contemporary Art (2015), and Cover To Cover at the Richmond Art Gallery, BC (2018). He recently edited and published Frontline: Interviews with International Photo-based Artists. He is also the publisher of 88Books, an independent press of artist books. Tam lives in Vancouver, BC.