Ken Lum, Youth Portraits, 1985, offset lithograph on newsprint. Gift of Bill Jeffries, 2017. Photo SFU Galleries. 

Episode 9 | August 11
Kara Ditte Hansen and Steffanie Ling on Ken Lum

Comprised of a grid with 16 photographic portraits of youth ranging from infants to young adults from a variety of social and cultural backgrounds, Ken Lum's Youth Portraits (1985) was originally installed as part of a series spray-mounted to the walls of Vancouver's Coburg Gallery (1983-1987), creating a constellation of diverse faces. While in conversation about Youth Portraits, Kara Ditte Hansen and Steffanie Ling reflect on memories of encountering Lum’s conceptual art practice, first as self-described "keener art students," and now a decade later, less burdened by the pressure to perform intellectually cumbersome readings of it. They consider Lum’s exploration — at times humorous, other times painful — of social and political belonging that comes into particular focus when tracing tensions between institutional records and personal experience.

Kara Ditte Hansen is an artist and filmmaker. She is a master’s student in the Cinematic Arts program at University of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She loves all things pickled. 

Steffanie Ling is an occasional critic and regular reader of Marx. She is a current graduate student in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Simon Fraser University. 

Hansen and Ling attended the same high school in Calgary, Alberta.



[Image Description: An offset lithograph on newsprint presents a grid of 16 black and white photographic portraits; of diverse youth ranging in age from infants to young adults. Each portrait is closely cropped, where the portraits’ smiling faces gaze outward in various directions.]