Grandfather Chen and letters to the artist’s mother

身在唐人街 / Occupying Chinatown

Past meets present with Artist Paul Wong’s year-long residency

On April 22, 2018, Paul Wong officially launches his year-long residency at the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden to coincide with the City of Vancouver’s formal apology for the historical discrimination against Chinese residents in Vancouver.

Wong will be creating a series of multidisciplinary artworks based on 700 letters in Chinese sent by 90 writers to his mother Suk-Fong Wong from 1946 to 2016.

The residency will include exhibitions, screenings, collaborations with other artists, workshops, performances, events, a website, and a book. 

Ordinary Shadows, Chinese Shade

Watch Wong’s exploration of his second-generation Chinese-Canadian perspective on the Chinese in the new world, Canada, and in the motherland, China. 

Through his own “family network” and trips to the People’s Republic of China, Wong gained access to the everyday, non-exotic world of the Chinese. 

Ordinary Shadows, Chinese Shade is in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. 

(1988, 89m, colour, in Chinese with English subtitles)

Watch at Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden

Ordinary Shadows, Chinese Shade will be continuously screening from April 22 to June 11 at Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden. See hours and location 

Attend the open house on April 22

View Ordinary Shadows, Chinese Shade at the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden free of charge during Chinatown Culture Day.

Wong will be available to discuss the concepts behind the residency at the Occupying Chinatown Studio.

Date and time:  April 22, 3:30pm to 5pm
Location: BC Artscape, 268 Keefer St, Suite 427

Watch online

Ordinary Shadows, Chinese Shade will be available to watch online from April 22 to June 11.

Watch online

咸水埠温哥华 / Haam Sui Fow Wun Goh Wah

This spring Wong will create a new neon work to be mounted on the Garden’s exterior southern wall above the Moon Gate to acknowledge Chinatown’s Toisanese pioneers. In Chinese, the sign reads as Saltwater City (咸水埠 Haam Sui Fow) and Vancouver (温哥华  Wun Goh Wah). 

About the artist

Paul Wong has been creating daring work for over 40 years, pushing the boundaries of conventional cultural stereotypes and art. He's produced large-scale interdisciplinary artworks in unexpected public spaces since the 1970s.

His work subverts stereotypes in form and content. Many works are bilingual, and trilingual, meshing English, Cantonese, and Mandarin.

Works relevant to this project include:

  • Ordinary Shadows, Chinese Shade (Cantonese and English) (1988)
  • Chinaman’s Peak
  • Walking the Mountain (1992)
  • Blending Milk and Water: Sex in the New World (1996)
  • Widows 97 (1997), Wah-Q: The Overseas Chinese (1998)
  • Refugee Class of 2000 (2000)

Learn more about Paul Wong's work 

Occupying Chinatown is commissioned by the City of Vancouver Public Art Program in partnership with the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. The BC Arts Council provided additional support.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden

Visit the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park and Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver – a tranquil garden right in the heart of Chinatown.

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