Artist Book

Wht is Wu Tang?

by Paul Chan


Wu Tang is a small mountain range in the northwestern part of Hubei Province of People’s Republic of China, just to the south of the city of Shiyan. From these mountains came The Wu Tang Clan, a group of rappers who are physically from Staten Island, New York, but spiritually find their home elsewhere. Wht is Wu Tang? is an unique handmade book and graphic e-book that allegorically grapples with the history of the Clan and their contribution to hip hop through the unlikely personality of Republican presidential candidate and former Texas governor Rick Perry. What is the connection?

In the 70s, Ed Ruscha famously focused on the recognizable signage of popular culture. "Hollywood,” he once said, “is like a verb to me. It's something you can do to any subject or anything." Wht is is a series of one-of-a-kind handmade books by Paul Chan. Joining the ranks of Ruscha, Marcel Broodthaers, and Isa Genzken, Chan uncovers a new profundity by collecting the vernacular text and imagery of our present moment and using them as verbs. The verbs come from the high-speed expansiveness of Google image searches, quotes, and text translated using Chan’s fonts. The results are alluring pamphlets filled with careless whispers, in which subjects ranging from the Kardashians, to Cézanne, to Wu Tang seem to implode, acquiring and losing meaning at the same time.

The digital is brought back to paper. The book becomes its own home, taking on a precious objecthood reminiscent of Josh Smith’s artist books. But, while each physical Wht is book is unique, there also exists an “unlimited edition” of each as an ebook on Apple iBooks and Amazon Kindle, allowing the work to exist in both edition and digital form.


Inkjet Print on Cardstock

8" x 6.5"

40 pages


Paul Chan

Paul Chan is a New York-based artist. A survey entitled Selected Works was mounted by Schaulager in Basel, Switzerland (April 11-October 19, 2014). His work has been exhibited widely in many international shows including: Documenta 13, Kassel, 2012; Before The Law, Ludwig Museum, Cologne, 2011-12; Making Worlds, 53rd Venice Biennale, Venice, 2009; Medium Religion, ZKM, Karlsruhe, 2008; Traces du sacrê, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2008; 16th Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, 2008; 10th International Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, 2007; and the Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of Art, New York, 2006. Solo exhibitions include: My Laws are My Whores, The Renaissance Society and the University of Chicago, Chicago, 2009; Paul Chan: Three Easy Pieces, Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge, 2008; Paul Chan: The 7 Lights, Serpentine Gallery, London and New Museum, New 2007–2008; Paul Chan, Para/Site art space, Hong Kong, 2006. Chan founded Badlands Unlimited in 2010.