Paul Chan: Happiness (finally) after 35,000 years of civilization

July 17 - November 4, 2018
Alsdorf Gallery

"What is Henry Darger?... I couldn’t make sense of him or his work. The more I looked at the work the more I asked ‘What is going on here?’ I didn’t know what I was looking at and that was the beginning."

- Paul Chan via interview with Saint Lucy

 Paul Chan (b. Hong Kong, 1973) is an American artist, writer, and publisher. His first major video piece, Happiness (Finally) After 35,000 Years of Civilization, created from 1999 to 2003, employs the surrealistic drawings of American artist Henry Darger to examine the failure of utopianism, the depressing reality of recurrent wars and the disappointments of present-day political systems.

An editioned work, Happiness (Finally) After 35,000 Years of Civilization is part of the 2016 gift of 68 works of contemporary art to the Block Museum from art collector, philanthropist, and software innovator Peter Norton. The Block gift is one of a series of gifts Norton has made to university art museums throughout the country. The gifts were made in recognition and support of those institutions advancing innovative work to integrate art into teaching and learning across disciplines, foster creative museum practices, and engage audiences with diverse forms of contemporary art.

Image: Paul Chan, detail from Happiness (Finally) After 35,000 Years of Civilization, courtesy of the artist and Greene Naftali Gallery