This unique book brings visibility to historic sites that have gradually faded away from official narratives as their physical remnants have disappeared from the landscape. During the mid-19th century, Chinese immigrants began settling along the coast of British Columbia to work the gold and coal mines and to build the transcontinental railway that would form the backbone of Canada. Today, there are only a few remaining structures of the many settlements that spread throughout the province. Yet, the immigrants’ collective memories have lived on in the community in the form of stories, artifacts, and monuments.
Comprised of a new body of multimedia works, along with archival materials sourced from multiple official archives, the exhibition will revive six historic sites across British Columbia that bear the untold struggles of the Chinese immigrants: (Part 1, shown in Centre A) the destroyed “bone house” of Harling Point, the Leper Colony of D’Arcy Island, and the burnt-down Chinatown in Cumberland; (Part 2, shown in Canton-sardine) the Canada Village in Kaiping, China, the New Westminster Chinese Cemetery, and the Mountain View Chinese Cemetery It will take the form of an immersive installation that reanimates these early Chinese immigrant experiences during an era of exclusionist policies. Part of the artist’s ongoing investigation into the living conditions of the early Chinese immigrants since 2011, the exhibition sparks an uncanny parallel to the anti-Chinese sentiment prevailing during the current coronavirus pandemic.
About the author:
Gu Xiong works with painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, photography, video, digital imagery, text, performance art and installation. Throughout his career as a visual artist, Gu Xiong has drawn on both his own life experience as an immigrant and his active engagement with migrant communities around the world. His works have been globally exhibited and recognized for transforming and deepening the understanding of the migrant experience, in terms of home, geography, globalization, and labour.