My laws are my whores marks the premiere of a new ensemble of works by Paul Chan. Using the writer and philosopher Marquis De Sade (1740–1814) as a point of departure, Chan has created moving image works, ink and charcoal drawings, a sculpture, and a set of computer fonts that evoke what the Sadean legacy might look like today and how his obsessions with forms of sex, violence, freedom, and reason echo in the 21st century.
Down by law (Sade spent a third of his life in prison), Sade nevertheless sought refuge in the spirit of law by writing novels, essays, and plays that erected a philosophy of pleasure and freedom that was as rigid, contradictory, and cruel as the judicial system that imprisoned him. Sade’s work is the most emphatic expression of what poet Wallace Stevens once described as the definition of a poem: “A violence from within that protects us from a violence without.” The works in the show explore this contradictory attraction and repulsion to law as a force that shapes our inner and outer lives.
A set of 18 computer fonts have been released online by Chan on the occasion of the Renaissance Society exhibition. Chan has been exploring the aesthetic and philosophical potential of computer fonts for nearly a decade. These fonts transform any act of typing into a Sadean performance. All the fonts are Mac, PC, and Linux compatible and are free to download via the Renaissance society website.