Press Release

PAFA Morris Gallery Presents Paul Chan: Pillowsophia

PAFA Morris Gallery Presents Paul Chan: Pillowsophia

A sculptural meditation on issues of violence, race, and consumer culture

March 22 – May 28, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (February 21, 2017) – The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) presents Paul Chan: Pillowsophia, on view from March 22 through May 28 in the Morris Gallery at PAFA, 118 N. Broad Street.

Known for innovations in new media, which often examine contemporary issues through the lens of classical philosophy, Paul Chan is an artist, writer and publisher who practices political and cultural activism in multiple formats.

For this Morris Gallery installation, Chan’s sculptural animation Pillowsophia (after Ghostface) is presented alongside his new poem written with Badlands Unlimited, an independent art book publisher founded in 2010 by Chan, titled “New No’s” (both works 2016).

“Modeled on the inflatable fluttering figures often seen at car dealerships, Pillowsophia evokes in a novel animated form metaphors of violence and sacrifice, and uses the symbol of the hoodie as a visual and conceptual anchor,” notes Curator of Contemporary Art Jodi Throckmorton. “‘New No’s,’ Badlands Unlimited’s response to the 2016 presidential election, firmly connects this violence to the current political moment and powerfully declares the writer’s stand against racism and discrimination.”

Pillowsophia — a hollow nylon armature activated by industrial fans at its base—follows a series of recent works by Chan, which aim to liberate the animated image from the confines of the screen and into three dimensions. Surrounded by concrete-filled sneakers outfitted with electrical plugs and long cords, the nylon forms’ movements — alternately tormented and ecstatic — are specifically choreographed using strategies from physics and patternmaking, while their conceptual basis draws from Greek philosophical traditions linking breath with consciousness.

“Aristotle once wrote, ‘Knowledge is for that which moves by that which moves.’ I just want to know what movement is worth knowing today,” said Chan.

Inspired by Yvonne Rainer’s infamous “No Manifesto” (1965), “New No’s” was written after the November 2016 presidential election to act as what Badlands Unlimited calls “a declaration against the drift of American society toward what is most un-American.” It has since been translated into 13 languages. Holland Cotter, art critic for The New York Times, included “New No’s” in his list of The Best Art of 2016.

Paul Chan was born in Hong Kong and raised in Nebraska. He lives and works in New York. He has an upcoming solo exhibition at Greene Naftali, New York in 2017. Recent solo exhibitions include Deste Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra, Greece (2015); Slought Foundation, Philadelphia (2015); Guggenheim Museum, New York (2015); Schaulager, Basel (2014); The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, Chicago (2009); Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (2008); and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2007). He is the 2014 recipient of the Hugo Boss Prize. 

His work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.


SEI is the exclusive Presenting Sponsor of the Morris Gallery Exhibition Program.


About PAFA
Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the 2005 National Medal of Arts, PAFA is a recognized leader in fine arts education with a world-class permanent collection of American art.


About SEI
SEI (NASDAQ:SEIC) is a leading global provider of investment processing, investment management, and investment operations solutions that help corporations, financial institutions, financial advisors, and ultra-high-net-worth families create and manage wealth. As of December 31, 2016, through its subsidiaries and partnerships in which the company has a significant interest, SEI manages or administers $751 billion in hedge, private equity, mutual fund and pooled or separately managed assets, including $283 billion in assets under management and $468 billion in client assets under administration. For more information, visit
Last Updated
March 1, 2017 - 3:49 PM

About PAFA

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the fine arts, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and a world-class collection of American art. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Thomas Eakins, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.