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© Page couverture l Book cover, (Be)Longing, 1998.

Yau Ching, Laiwan, Ellen Pau, Xiu Young
From April 24th 1997 to May 31st 1997

Curator : Mary Sui Yee Wong
Author : Karlyn Y-Mae Koh (publication)

"(be) longing" is an exhibition which focuses on presenting the works of four female artists of Chinese descent who have diverse backgrounds and rich cultural/community practices : Yau Ching (Michigan), Laiwan (Vancouver), Ellen Pau (Hong Kong) and Xiu Li Young (Montréal). Mary Sui Yee Wong (Montreal) is the guest curator.

This exhibition is timely since 1997 marks the year when Hong Kong will be returned to China. As symbol of homeland and cultural identity, Hong Kong is threatened by prospects of becoming a communist state. Although each of the visiting artist has a different relationship to and understanding of this British colony, their cultural practice as well as their current locations, resonates a fragmentation which disrupts the notion of "home" as scared or secured place. Through their individual interrogations of personnal, social and political her/histories, the four artists have created works which are poetic, fearless and disparate. Ultimately, it is their shared sensibilities of material and form that brings them together in "(be) longing".

Along with the exhibition, a salon will be held in collaboration with TEA HOUSE, to provide an opportunity for the visiting artists to share and exchange ideas with local community, specifically the Asian arts community. The most significant objective of the exhibition and salon is to create an open forum which encourages a dialogue that extends beyond borders.

TEA HOUSE (part of the national network which includes LOTUS LAND I, Vancouver and LOTUS LAND II, Toronto) is an artist run, grass-roots, non-profit effort to share works and ideas featuring Chinese Canadian Visual artists, writers, video/filmmakers, and performers with others across the country. The ideas for salons to showcase Chinese Canadian artists works, came as a direct result of a Chinese Canadian Arts Symposium organized by the Chinese Canadian National Council in April 1995.
-Press release (Optica)

Go to publications catalogue.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Yau Ching is a writer, video/filmmake, educator. Recently, she published a book titled Building a New Stove, (Youth Literary Press, Hong Kong, 1996). After the Tien An Men Massacre, she moved to New York for graduate study at the New School for Social Research, and was also a studio participant at the Whitney Independent Study Program. Yau Ching has been working on issues concerning the possibilities and limitations of cultural translation; how documentary of the Other for a hegemonic white audience can be used as a political strategy to interrogate the historical structure of power relations. Currently, she teaches at University of Michigan.

Laiwan was born in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1961 of Chinese (Toisan) origin, and emigrated with her family to Canada in 1977 to leave the war in Rhodesia. She is practicing interdisciplinary artist based in Vancouver. She has exhibited over the years in numerous solo and group shows including : "The Culture of Nature" at the Kamploops Art Gallery (1996); "Xi Hua Yuan: Chinese Garden" at the Seafirst Gallery, Seattle (1995) and "Yellow Peril : New World Asians (1988-98)/ Reconsidered (1991)" which toured in Canada and Europe. Active in various curatorial projects since 1983 whe she started OR Gallery, she is also a writer who has been published in various periodicals and is currently co-editor of Front Magazine.

Ellen Pau is Hong Kong’s premier video artist. Her video are shown in film festivals world-wide and installation works are exhibited in international events like the Kwangju Biennial, Copenhague Container 96 and the Asian Pacific Triennal in Australia. Working initially as a filmmaker, she moved to video as her preferred medium in 1987. Her works range from MTV for Cantopop singer, independent video to installation. She is founding member of the artist’s group , videotage, which is an active promoter of independent video and film arts in Hong Kong. Ellen curated a number of local Fringe Festival’s video programs and she will curate the coming video programs in Hong Kong International Film Festival.

Born in Georgetown, Bristish Guyana, Xiu Li Young is a Montreal based artist. Her work involves the use of photography, performance and installation to examine feminist based issues of identity, sexuality and popular culture. Her training includes Fine Arts Studio at Concordia University, Women studies at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, and East Asian Studies at McGill University. She is an active member of Studio XX, a women’s digital technologies intervention group in Montreal.

Born in Hong Kong, Mary Sui Yee Wong is a Montreal based artist and coordinator of TEA HOUSE. Wong’s work explores the construction of identity based on challenges to the fixing of relations between margins and centres. Since 1991, she has exhibited her work across Canada: most recently Helen Pitt Gallery, Vancouver and 101 Gallery, Ottawa. She has also worked extensively as a community consultant throughout her artistic practice. In 1993, she was invited by the Anthropology Museum in Vancouver to produce a video which accompanied the exhibition "A rare Flower – A Century of Cantonese Opera in Canada". In 1994, Wong curated "Un coup d’oeil sur l’Opéra de Pékin" for the Maison de la culture Frontenac and worked as Program Coordinator for "The Secrets of Chinese Opera" at the McCord Museum, Montreal.