M’goi/Doh Jeh is an exhibit at Centre A that is running April 24th through June 14.
In a time numerous new condo towers are under construction, new businesses are popping up, and the term “revitalization” is being thrown around Chinatown, this exhibit is a perfect way to embrace and maintain the culture of the past. Reconciling the traditional community with the new kids on the block is an important step that often gets overlooked with revitalization, especially when the ability to fill a space in today’s society is dependent on little other than paying rent.
Our writer Kitty provides a wonderful synopsis of the overall exhibit here, and I was fortunate enough to attend the opening reception on Thursday, April 24.
There was food, there were drinks, there was art, and what I appreciated most was that there were interactive expressions of culture. Some of the forces driving it all are Tyler Russell, who is the curator of the exhibition, Kathryn Gwun-Yeen Lennon as a participating artist and coordinator of the Living Language Studio/Saturday School project components, and Lydia Kwa, also a participating artist. Their efforts and enthusiasm in organizing the exhibit were an inspiration.
One wall, called the “Community Memory Map,” allowed people to put up photos and documents of the sites and people they wished to give gratitude, and the aspects of China town that they were afraid to lose.
The project will also hold Saturday School classes to teach survival Cantonese, and at Thursday’s exhibit, there was also a wall in tribute to language. You could write up a word in Cantonese that you knew or a word that had particular meaning to you, and attach it to the wall. It made for a touching experience to memorialize culture and language.
Lydia Kwa’s artwork from her project Linguistic Tantrums was up on display and worth taking a trip to see, if you didn’t get the chance.
She used foundry type that she purchased from Canada’s first Chinese print shop, Ho Sun Hing, which was closing down. She created playful works of art that she then coupled with short poems. What I enjoyed the most about the pieces of artwork was the emphasis on interaction: you have the opportunity to share your own creative reaction to the pieces.
Here are some photos from the opening reception, and the public programs that Centre A is offering over the next 7 weeks:
Community Memory Map
Facilitated by Kathryn Gwun-Yeen Lennon
Contribute your stories and photos of the neighbourhood.
Game of Couplets, a participatory poetry game by Lydia Kwa
Daily with a special event on May 31 at 3pm
Saturday School 10am-12pm, Saturdays, from April 26 – June 7
Curated by Kathryn Gwun-Yeen Lennon, with language instruction by Zoe Lam.(PDF)
Learn Chinatown survival Cantonese and get oriented to the neighbourhood! The streets, shops and spaces of Chinatown will be our classroom and its people will be our textbooks. Classes will include: basic Cantonese greetings, numbers, getting around, how to order food in a restaurant and grocery shopping. We will do short field trips around the neighbourhood and hear stories about Chinatown history,community organizing, and historic and current relationships with the diverse cultural communities who share the space. Our final exam will be a grocery shopping expedition and collaboratively created meal.
7 classes: $40 for members, $60 for non-members, $9 drop-in.
Youth Community Film Screening (PDF)
Curated by Kathryn Gwun-Yeen Lennon
May 10 at 3pm
Poetry Reading by Lydia Kwa and Kathryn Gwun-Yeen Lennon
May 17 at 3pm