Ken Lum, "Bindy Sangeet: Employee of the Month / Alia Naffouj: Hooked on Tennis," 2015 (click arrows for more images)
On main billboard, in Hatton, Missouri, January–February 2015
Installation view at main billboard site (click arrows for more images)
Ken Lum, "Bindy Sangeet: Employee of the Month / Alia Naffouj: Hooked on Tennis," diptych, 2015 (click arrows for more images)
Installed on satellite billboard, near Hatton, MO, January 2016
View of Lum billboard with "Friendship" values.com PSA in the foreground (click arrows for more images)
Lum created a new work for the Sign Show by merging existing pieces — "Bindy Sangeet: Employee of the Month" (1990) and "Alia Naffouj: Hooked on Tennis" (1998) — into a diptych. Within the context of message themes along the interstate, his billboard comments on labor, immigration, the American Dream, and comparative representations of aspirant and achieved success. Of ethnic Chinese origin, Lum often makes work that considers the individual's place in society while investigating race and class distinctions. This content was enhanced when his "Bindy / Alia" image moved to its second, "satellite," I-70 location adjacent to a Mister Rogers "Friendship: Pass it On" values.com public-service announcement sponsored by the nonprofit Foundation For a Better Life. The satellite sites of Sign Show artworks are left to chance: DDI Media assigns them different locations each time, depending on where empty signs are available. Usually, artworks move at least 50 miles from the main billboard in Hatton, and, almost always, their meaning becomes more poetic or political in the new locations. In Lum's case, his work moved just across the road, yet it still entered a more potent conversation with surrounding ads and architecture.
In general, the diptych format of Lum's piece engages the frequent stacked or side-by-side billboards along the interstate (as pictured below), whose random message pairings often are inadvertently complementary or ironic.