Akeroyd Collection


Kenneth Tam, Silent Spikes, 2021

Silent Spikes is a two-channel video installation that investigates the intersections of masculinity, race, and labour. The work examines the performance of gender and considers the power of image production and circulation, asking who has been silenced, erased, or left out of the frame. Through a combination of staged scenes, choreographed dance sequences, candid testimony, where performers break character and reflect on their contributions to the work and a spoken script, the video outlines the intersectional and transnational struggles of different labour movements while interrogating various gender and identity stereotypes. Tam reflects on the underrepresented relationship between histories of Westward expansion and Chinese immigration in the United States and by queering the cinematic tropes of ‘the Western’ and producing hazy, poetic visuals, the archetypes of white American masculinity are gently undermined. A group of self-identified Asian American men inhabit the figure of the cowboy throughout the work and in the deft handling of the material, testimony and personal reflection, popular portrayals and expectations of masculinity are challenged. In doing so, Tam reimagines longstanding stereotyped representations of Asian males in the media and offers the possibility that history is not an ossified past but always holds the infinite potential for retelling. This would include the stories we tell about ourselves.

MediumTwo-channel HD video, colour, sound
Duration20 minutes 29 seconds
Editionof 5 + 2 APs