Past meets present with Artist Paul Wong’s year-long residency
Paul Wong officially launched his year-long residency at the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden to coincide with the City of Vancouver’s April 2018 formal apology for the historical discrimination against Chinese residents in Vancouver.
Wong is 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.
Occupying Chinatown is commissioned in partnership with the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Wong also received support from the Audain Foundation and the BC Arts Council.
Visitors to the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden can enjoy the exhibition 淑芳你好嘛 /Suk-Fong Nay Ho Mah / Suk-Fong, How Are You?, which presents new pieces of art developed as part of Paul Wong’s year-long OCCUPYING CHINATOWN/身在唐人街 residency.
This exhibit includes a pair of signs to acknowledge Chinatown’s Toisanese settlers, as well as letters and objects.
淑芳你好嘛 /Suk-Fong Nay Ho Mah / Suk-Fong, How Are You? - January 12 to February 24, 2019
Transit shelter poster series - January 14 to February 24, 2019
Artist talk and panel - January 19, 2019
Chinese herbs and medicines workshops - January 26 and February 16, 2019
Mother's Cupboard 媽媽的藥櫃 - October 22, 2018, to February 2019
Contrasting signs: 鹹水埠溫哥華/Haam Sui Fow Wun Goh Wah
Silent film: Movement for Two Grannies: Five Variations by Laiwan
Gender Roles Playing On Stage
On August 1, 2019, Paul Wong presented an update on traditional Chinese opera with contemporary Asian drag —a one night only event in Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden featuring artists in traditional Chinese opera and Asian drag.
Audiences were treated to a mashup of these gender-bending genres that celebrate the rich history of Cantonese opera as a folk art form in Chinatown and Chinese communities. Classic Chinese opera roles including females were originally performed by men. More recently, when woman have been permitted to perform on stage, women often play both female and male roles.
This magical cross cultural and communities event was presented with community partner Vancouver Arts and Leisure Society as part of the Alternative Pride Festival.
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.
(1988, 89m, colour, in Chinese with English subtitles)
Ordinary Shadows, Chinese Shade was screened at the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden from April 22 to June 11.
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)