If All You Have is a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail

May 24 , 1:00 pm

 —  1:30 pm

All times are listed in Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)

If All You Have is a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail
Will Kwan


A three-channel video that follows a white real estate agent and an Asian-Canadian home-buyer as they drive to visit a prospective home for sale in Toronto. The work is an adaptation of a 1982 video installation by the Toronto artist John Massey exploring post-structuralist notions around language and meaning. In Massey’s installation, the central channel is a fixed shot of a vehicle windshield, while the flanking images are of Massey and his passenger intercut with clips depicting their disparate mental impressions of subjects arising in the conversation. Along with the characters, Kwan’s version updates the dialogue and images with racialized memes, viral content culled from the Internet, footage from reality TV home improvement shows, and other media tropes around identity and belonging. The route has also changed: beginning in a suburban neighbourhood in Markham, Ontario, a well-known East and South Asian enclave on the northern periphery of Toronto and Forest Hill, an affluent, predominantly white district in the centre of the city.


This program will be followed by an artist talk and a Q&A moderated by Yan Wu.

  • Will Kwan is a Hong Kong-born Canadian artist whose work examines how hegemony is produced through economic systems and cultural narratives. His work is in the permanent collections of M+, Folkestone Artworks, and Hart House and has been presented at MoMA PS1, ZKM, CAC Vilnius, MAC VAL, the AGO, and in biennials/triennials in Liverpool, Folkestone, Montréal, and Venice. Kwan is an Associate Professor in Studio Art and Visual Studies at the U of T Scarborough and the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, U of T St. George.