Exhibitions - Silent Spikes

Kenneth Tam
Silent Spikes

02.24.21 – 06.23.21

Kenneth Tam’s work reimagines spaces and social customs for male bodies in order to reveal vulnerable moments that can exist among men. With his solo exhibition, Silent Spikes Tam furthers this address of masculinity, while exploring intersections of race and labor economics. In this new work of video and sculpture, Tam considers how Asian men have been stereotyped and maligned against the iconic trope of American masculinity: the cowboy. The two-channel video incorporates visual and narrative references to the labor strike organized by Chinese Transcontinental Railroad workers in 1867, as well as the loosely scored activities of Tam’s participants, choreographed and free movements, and reflections that promote intimacy and connection to the self. Drawing inspiration from this history, and centuries of discriminatory practices and representation of the Asian male in media and cinema, Tam reflects upon the entangled histories of Westward expansion and immigration in the U.S. by working collaboratively with contemporary subjects of the Asian Diaspora.


Kenneth Tam (b.1982) works in video, sculpture, and photography, using the male body as a starting point for discussions about performance, physical intimacy, vulnerability, and private ritual. Tam received his BFA from the Cooper Union, and his MFA from the University of Southern California.


Tam participated in The Shed’s upcoming Open Call. He recently produced his first live(streamed) performance at The Kitchen. He has had solo exhibitions at the Minneapolis Institute of Art; MIT List Center for Visual Arts, Boston, MA; Commonwealth and Council, LA; Night Gallery, LA; Tam has participated in group shows at 47 Canal, NY; Hollybush Gardens, London; the Hammer Museum, LA; and the 2019 InPractice exhibition at SculptureCenter, Queens. He has participated in residencies including Artist Lab at 18th Street Arts Center; LMCC Workspace; The Core Residency Program at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and Pioneer Works. Tam is currently a Lecturer at Princeton University. Tam was born in Queens, and lives and works in Brooklyn.


Kenneth Tam: Silent Spikes is organized by Sophia Marisa Lucas, Assistant Curator.


This work was made possible by the Queens Museum with support from the Asian Art Circle at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Additional support provided by The Kahng Foundation and Miyoung Lee & Neil Simpkins.


Major funding for the Queens Museum is generously provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, the Booth Ferris Foundation, the Lambent Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the New York Community Trust, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, and the TD Charitable Foundation.