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The sun never knew how great it was until it struck the side of a building.

Dan Paz

Curated by Yaelle Amir

March 7 – April 13, 2019

Reception: Thursday, March 7

6:00 to 8:00pm

Williamson | Knight is pleased to present The sun never knew how great it was until it struck the side of a building. by artist Dan Paz, curated by Yaelle Amir. The sun never knew how great it was until it struck the side of a building. opens March 7 and runs through April 13, 2019, and is supported in part by the Multnomah County Cultural Coalition. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, March 7 from 6:00 to 8:00pm. An artist’s talk will be held on Saturday, April 6, and a closing reception with performance choreographed by Donnell Williams will be held on Friday, April 12. Gallery hours are Thursday through Saturday, 12:00 to 5:00pm.

The sun never knew how great it was until it struck the side of a building., titled after a quote by the modernist architect Louis Khan, explores the role light plays in the oppression of historically marginalized individuals—especially people of color, low-income, and queer communities. Curated by Yaelle Amir for Williamson | Knight, the work of artist Dan Paz examines how light is manipulated in carceral environments to craft a controlled collective space.

With video, sculpture and performance, the exhibition demonstrates different methods of performing in, modifying, and refracting light to uncover how psychological and physical development is affected by lightness and darkness. The works in the exhibition—a high resolution experimental film, an HD video of establishing shots, and lanterns made of cement and ceramic—draw a material and visual connection between a university in Seattle and its neighbouring juvenile detention center. Both institutions are primarily entrusted with the care of young individuals who are on the cusp of adulthood, yet still very much in their formative years. They are designed as delimited collective spaces that are deliberately shaped in the spirit of the Brutalist architectural aesthetic (a style from the mid-twentieth century that is characterized by bare concrete forms), and an approach to regulating light as a mechanism to mobilize social and political power. These elements are represented throughout the works in Paz’s exhibition--from the choreographed performance on the university’s sports field and close-up shots of the austere detention facility building, to the lanterns that echo archetypal modernist Brutalist forms. By interweaving movement, light and sound, these works uncover and visualize subtle, yet effective, methods of control expertly orchestrated by agents of power.


Dan Paz is a visual artist and educator whose work and teaching explores the labor of lens-based production as a collaborative site where the intersections of the image-idea and lived experience are produced and contested. In videos, photography, and sculptural projects that query the ability of documented processes to be manipulated—to be multiplied and replicated, stopped and started, rewound and advanced—Dan specifically works within the impossibilities of absolute replication to question the very ability of the image to truly represent. The resultant body of work explores the contours of identity and community within rich socio-historical frameworks. Select exhibitions include: Hayward Gallery London, UK; the 12th Havana Biennial at Fábrica de Arte Cubano, Havana, Cuba; Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam, Netherlands; The Media lab, NYC; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Gene Siskel Film Center, and The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts in Chicago, IL. Dan’s exhibitions have been generated out of residencies with El Centro Desarollo de Artes in Havana, Cuba; The Studios of Key West; Chicago Artist Coalitions’ Hatch Residency; The Luminary in St. Louis, MO; ACRE in WI; and the High-Resolution Media Arts Residency at Seattle University. Selected Awards include: The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur’s Connection Fund, The Multnomah County Cultural Coalition, The Ann Metzger National Award for Prints, The LinksHall LinkUP Grant & Residency, Open Practice Committee Grant, University of Chicago Arts Council funding, the Claire Kantor Foundation Grant, and The Wyckoff Milliman Endowment Grant. www.danpaz.com  


Yaelle Amir is an independent curator and organizer based in Portland, OR. Her writing and curatorial projects focus primarily on artists whose practices supplement the initiatives of existing social movements—rendering themes within those struggles in ways that both interrogate and promote these issues to a wider audience. Her programs have taken place in art institutions throughout the U.S., including Portland’s Newspace Center for Photography where she was Curator of Programs (2015-2017). She was recently named to the curatorial team of the 2019 Portland Biennial, and presently teaches in the Art+Social Practice MFA Program at PSU. A long-term focus in Yaelle’s work—through multiple exhibitions, public programs and lectures—has been raising awareness to the effects of mass incarceration policies in the United States. www.yaelleamir.com

Programming support generously provided by: Multnomah County Cultural Coalition