Invisible Footprints 0.1

Art & Archive Exhibition

October 20, 2017 (The Opening Night)
6:00pm - 9:00pm

October 21 - 28, 2017
1:00pm-5:00pm

October 29, 2017
9:00 - 2:00pm

@

Open Space Gallery, OCAD University (49 McCaul St.)

Curatorial Statement

Invisible Footprints 0.1 is a reflection of the place that LGBTQ East and Southeast Asian history has in the wider queer histories of Toronto. The vibrancy of Queer Asian life is obvious to those who live and have lived it. And yet, these experiences are repeatedly sidelined or rendered invisible within the greater queer Toronto story. Official versions of documented histories serve to legitimize a people’s contributions, struggles, and existence. But, queer Asian life in Toronto has always occupied shapes and circumstances beyond what is documentable. Much of our histories are recorded only in collective memories, experiences, and in what they have made possible. The creative resilience in the face of systemic injustices and their internalization, migration, and cultural legacies is both chaotic and beautiful. Gatherings over dim sum, movements galvanized in living rooms, loves and families brought together by shared pains and triumphs, collective liberation on dancefloors, on stages, and behind karaoke microphones — these moments, along with the officious, documented milestones, constitute queer Asian histories in this city.

Seven artists were invited to reflect on and respond to these nebulous ideas of Toronto’s “queer Asian history”. Through creative interpretation and intervention, they wrestle with what existed and exists, what was documented and undocumented, what could have been and what could be. Through illustration, photography, sculpture, text, and forming new relationships with each other and with community elders, these artists play with the real and the imaginary. Tasked with both documenting and visioning, they give shape to the past and then complicate those shapes. Invisible Footprints 0.1 is “0.1” because it is one of many layers of interpretation, just like how any snapshot of history is but one of many.

Beyond this exhibition, we continue to, at once, look back and look to the future. These two gestures bracket and make sense of the present. To do it consciously, and in both critical and celebratory ways, allow us to (re)calibrate our relationships to time, space, bodies, desires, and power. Everything is always eerily the same and yet completely different. Being queer and East or Southeast Asian in Toronto is as undefinable and multiple as it has always been. Invisible Footprints 0.1 is a celebration, a chance for calibration, and another point of access to our cultural inheritances and possibilities. We leave it open...just how we found it, and how it finds us.

Curators

Karen B. K. Chan
Karen B. K. Chan was raised largely by the robust queer East and Southeast Asian communities of 90's Toronto. BK co-founded Queer Asian Youth and is an alumnus of the Raging Asian Women Taiko Drummers. She was also part of the tiny and short-lived queer Asian girl band, Overlap.
Vince Ha
Vince Ha is a writer-director who captures fragmentary moments and uses them to challenge issues of race, class, gender and representation. His work includes short films such as “Stay” and “Empty Nest,” and his one-act plays “Three Brothers” and “Lottery” are the first two installments of a familial abandonment trilogy.

Executive Producer

Mezart Daulet
Mezart Daulet is an educator, researcher and creator who specializes in equity, inclusion and community-based programming. In the past, he has coordinated Queer Asian Youth, a youth resiliency building program at Asian Community AIDS Services, and Strength In Unity, a national mental health research at Ryerson University. He is currently designing and implementing global citizenship and equity education at Centennial College.

Featured Artists

Bar 501 by Faith

Bars and clubs are sites of resistance. Social change is imagined as protesting. During the 1980s and 1990s, gay and lesbian people weren’t supposed to fuck. Apparently trans people didn’t exist. And Asian people definitely didn’t drink or do drugs. In bars and clubs you can exist as the person you’re not supposed to be and do the things you’re not supposed to. Gay and lesbian Asians did not feel welcomed in these white dominated spaces while experiencing overt and covert racism. Despite this, they still engaged while making their own spaces. “Bar 501” is a snapshot of this history.

Faith is a mixed race non-binary “tomboy femme” artist, grassroots community organizer, and writer of Filipinx descent. They identify as a sober addict in recovery. Faith wishes to politicize their experiences with substance use, challenge that moralizing history of sobriety culture while unraveling the limited representations of the addicted body.

Gay Magic, Gay Grief by Heidi Cho

In the absence of institutionalized documentation or in opposition to official histories, memory becomes a valuable historical resource and ephemeral and personal collections of objects stand alongside the documents of the dominant culture in order to offer alternative modes of knowledge” -Ann Cvetkovich, An Archive of Feelings

Challenging the idea of a single coherent narrative around Asian queerness, Gay Magic, Gay Grief explores an emotional archive of desire, shame, loss, magic, trauma and grief experienced by artist, Heidi Cho, moving through her experiences as a young queer Korean. Showcasing a series of illustrations, found objects, archival photographs and mixed-media, Cho replicates her bedroom wall where colliding experiences of queerness and family are able to co-exist in the domestic sphere.

Heidi Cho is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Toronto. She self publishes narrative-based comics and zines exploring themes of family, survivorship, sexuality and mental health. Her work has appeared in C Magazine, Shameless Magazine, GUTS Magazine and Peak Magazine. She is currently working on a graphic novel about intergenerational trauma and healing.

On From-ness 7 by James M. Lee

Prompted by the question POC are asked all the time, what ultimately is identity derived from?

This poem, puzzle, story -explores roots personally and collectively; examines ultimate from-ness origins to the ever presenting present and the return roadmap that brings us full circle.

Embracing the paradox of seeming opposites co-existing simultaneous in perfect balance; Of light and shadow, reflection and illumination, Are we separate or together? Same or different? Is it nothing or everything? Or both? Or all?

Is the best vantage point looking back? From up high or deep inside?

Can we find footing without foundation?

With acknowledgement of the gracious support of Antonio Gregorio of Grey Matter Design Studio.

James M. Lee is a full-spectrum creative individual, and the pioneer of junkyard futurism - an eclectic style derived from the here, now, then and there. His multi-faceted work often contains elements of fashion, humour, futurism, deeper truths and balanced asymmetry.

In(visible) Minorities by Amy Poon

How have people, relationships, and spaces changed over time in Toronto?

Through comparing and contrasting photos of queer Asian community members at the same physical locations in different times, In(visible) Minorities intends to question and contest the shifting identities and geographies in our community. By displaying past and present photographic narratives, we can collectively create more visibility for our queerness which are often overlooked by our own ethnic communities and beyond; provoke discussions on the visual, spatial, and textural documentation and development of queer Asian history in Toronto; as well as inspire future generations of queer Asian youth and others who previously are inaccessible to these affective stories.

With background in architecture and critical gender/sexuality studies, Amy Poon is a wayfinding and signage designer who is currently completing her Master’s at York University with a focus on visual and spatial representations in urban environments and their inter-influential relationships with liminal identities. She enjoys documenting her surroundings and translating lived experiences through sketching, photography, and computer-aided design.

How do I ask a Question? by Ron Siu

My work “How do I ask a Question?” juxtaposes photos of myself mixed with mediated images of gay Asians from sources such as Yaoi manga. The work attempts to process how actual representations of Queer Asian histories, challenge disjunctions from these more consumable and fictional forms of the gay Asian body. The deliberate staging of all these elements builds a personal, shifting understanding of gay Asian identity prompted by materials from the archive.

Ron Siu is an artist currently based in Toronto, Canada. His works explore themes of identity, desire and alienation. Siu is interested in examining how culture and media contribute to a sense of alienation and pleasure in contemporary gay identities. He is presently pursuing a degree in Painting at OCAD University.

a delicate forest by Anthony Tran

There is something missing when we talk about queer Asian folks, our history, and our future: “space”.

This work explores the idea of queer Asian spaces, and the need for them. Bamboo is used to bring forth the complexity of queer Asian youths, and allows the space to reach out, reflect, and acknowledge; sharing both a delicacy, and a strength, while growing with such force, and ferocity.

This complexity is deserving of a space.

As a Vietnamese-Canadian actor, comedian, and all-around artist, Tony (née Anthony) Tran is always looking to be creative. Aside from performing, he hones his artistic craft through illustration, music, and the occasional design. He is often seen doodling on a napkin, speed-walking downtown, and holding a cup of coffee.

Untitled by Khanh Tudo

The Toronto Queer Asian community is sporadic, it moves through word of mouth, facebook events, and flyers. It moves from the Manatee, to living rooms, to dim sum restaurants. The community can’t be defined by the space or property it owns, but rather the space our bodies and voices take up. This 3D collage of event posters is part archival and part fantasy – events we want from the community, and events that paved the way for us to know that these events are possible. This piece explores what it means to have a space with no walls or furniture, and what we look for in community.

Khanh Tudo is a young filmmaker based in Toronto, currently exploring other mediums of storytelling such as mixed media installation. Her previous work in documentary and experimental films have explored her Vietnamese Canadian cultural identity.

Exhibition Committee

En Tze Loh

En Tze Loh is a freshly graduated film student originally from Malaysia that moved to Canada to pursue the film industry. Their work and passions include production design, props making, stop motion animation, graphic design, illustration, as well as tattooing.

Steven Ly, Copy Editor

Steven Ly is a graduate from the University of Toronto with an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Women and Gender Studies, and plans on pursuing graduate studies. He compiled the timeline of Gay/Queer Asian presence and community organizing within Toronto for Invisible Footprints.

Thompson Cong Nguyen, Exhibition Design

Thompson Cong Nguyen is a queer, Vietnamese-Canadian designer based in Toronto. He holds a Bachelor’s in Architectural Design from Carleton University and is a member of the Makeshift Collective. His work explores how the built environment can shape, preserve and erase the narratives we share within and outside of our communities.

Ryan Tran, Graphic Design

Ryan Tran was born in Toronto after his parents immigrated from Vietnam. Although formally educated in graphic design, he has raw experience in various creative areas. He arranges mash-ups on his guitar, has formed amateur dance groups in both hip hop and Vietnamese dance, and acted in theatre productions and short videos by Rice Roll Productions. He works at Asian Community AIDS Services (ACAS).

Advisory Committee

Aries Cheung

Aries Cheung is a visual artist, graphic designer, performer and filmmaker. His work often deals with race, gender and sexuality. He has helped organize cultural and advocacy events on Asian LGBT and HIV/AIDS issues. His short films have been co-presented in the Toronto Inside Out LGBT Film Festival.

Katherine Chun

Katherine’s roots are from Hong Kong, Hawaii and San Francisco. She is here in Toronto, proud and happily married to Nancy and working with passion in mental health and teaching social work. Honored to be part of a diverse collective linking and reclaiming our Asian LGBTQ worlds (past, present and future).

Robert Diaz

Dr. Robert Diaz is an assistant professor and Graduate Coordinator in the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto. His research, teaching, and community work focus on the rich intersections between Asian, diasporic, and migratory forms of cultural expression. His scholarship has appeared in leading publications on race, gender, and sexuality. Diaz is also committed to equity and the pursuit of social justice. He has worked with organizations in the greater Toronto area that seek to better the lives of racially marginalized, queer, and Indigenous communities. He is the co-editor of Diasporic Intimacies: Queer Filipinos and Canadian Imaginaries, a groundbreaking collection that foregrounds the contributions of LGBTQ Filipinos to Canadian culture, society, and the arts (17).

André Goh

André Goh has over 3 decades of engaging, developing and promoting the rights of LGBTQ communities, and in particular, the East and South East Asian LGBTQ communities, in Toronto. He played key roles in the development, growth and sustainability of many mainstream and LGBTQ organizations including Gay Asian Toronto (GAT), KHUSH, Gay Asian AIDS Project, and Asian Community AIDS Services (ACAS).

Alan Li

Alan Li is a gay Chinese first generation immigrant from Hong Kong who has integrated his many roles of physician, community organizer, researcher and advocate to advance access and rights of immigrants and refugees, racial and sexual minorities, HIV/AIDS, and mental health. He is the co-founder of Asian Community AIDS Services, the Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment and the Hong Kong 10% Club. He was also editor for the Gay Asian Toronto CelebrAsian magazines and an avid Cantonese opera performer.

Eugene Nam

Eugene Nam is a queer person of colour and a settler from South Korea. Born and raised in Seoul, Eugene found Toronto as his safe haven, where he can fully express and embody his sexuality without fear of ostracism and persecution. He strives to fabulously and fearlessly express his academic and artistic sides, while being gentle, loving and kind towards himself and others.

Michelle Tam

Michelle is currently completing her Masters at Queen’s University. Her project focuses on understandings of sexuality that reflect on citizenship, racism, diaspora and transnational politics of sexuality, specifically with Chinese Canadian LGBTQ+ women and non-binary people. As an advisor, she is excited to be advancing the visibility of LGBTQ+ Asian Canadians.

Nancy Seto

Born in Ottawa, a first generation Chinese-Canadian lesbian, was influenced by 80’s music and wild hairstyles of the new wave era. Nancy relocated to Toronto in her late twenties with her then partner and found fulfillment and belonging in a new and wonderful community of Asian lesbians and women of colour.

Keith Wong

Keith was born in Hong Kong and educated as an accountant in Australia. He moved to Toronto in 1989 to reunite with his partner. He has worked as a political organizer, community advocate, leadership training consultant that address social inequities, homophobia and HIV stigma through the many organizations he cherishes over the years. In addition, he is starting out his life coaching practice specializing in transition and career development. He enjoys photography and distance running.

Collaborators

Makeshift Collective

Makeshift Collective is a design collective; our members collaborate and assemble their multi-disciplinary perspectives as a think-tank and creative agency. Together, we learn, grow, and take on unique challenges.

Special Thanks

Gabriel Bacani
Alvis Choi
Richard Fung
Lisa Lam
A.W. Lee
Min Sook Lee
Produced by
Rice Roll Productions
Funded by
ArtReach Toronto and Toronto Arts Council
Supported by OCAD University
OCAD University
University of Toronto
Asian Community AIDS Services