Celebrated multidisciplinary artist Paul Wong’s new book, Occupying Chinatown, set to be released this Saturday, September 11, is fully bilingual in English and Simplified Chinese and focused on several of the author’s major artworks exploring Chinese-Canadian identity and his engagement with Vancouver’s Chinese communities. We chatted with Paul about the limited-edition book ($80 online at release), and are giving you a chance to win! —Noa Nichol
Hi Paul! Please tell us a little bit about yourself to start.
Hi. My name is Paul Wong. I’m here in my studio in Vancouver’s Chinatown right now. I have been a practising artist for over 40 years. I guess I’m best described as an interdisciplinary artist and curator working in photography, film, video, installations, neon and performance. Much of my recent work has been public art projects. At this very moment I’m releasing my book, Occupying Chinatown.
What’s the book about?
The Occupying Chinatown book summarizes the last several years of my projects, specifically related to my discovery and exploration of the Chinese-Canadian diaspora. I have an interest in disappearing Chinatowns and uncovering the silenced experiences of migration to these shores.
What inspired you to create this book?
The inspiration for this book began a decade ago with the diagnosis of my mothers Alzheimer’s disease. What do you lose when you lose memory? You lose a thread of connection—history, language, culture, food, medicine. As my mother lost her memories I realized what was being erased were experiences of her generation. Of women who came to this country who often lived in the silence of a culture not just specific to Chinatown. In general they lived in a patriarchal society where only the histories of men were considered important and documented. In 2015, I discovered 900 letters in my mother’s bedroom. Most of these letters were written by her friends and family in China spanning 65 years. The Occupying Chinatown book includes several dozen of these private letters translated from Chinese to English and it documents many of the artworks they inspired. Although Occupying Chinatown focusses on my mother, Susan Suk Fong Wong, it is a record of not only what has been lost, but it also highlights what was previously unknown—the everyday. And with this book, that is what will now be remembered.
Win! A Copy Of Paul Wong’s Occupying Chinatown!
Congrats Siu F. of Toronto, ON, who will receive a copy of Paul Wong’s Occupying Chinatown! Please note: if you are the winner, you will receive a DM (direct message) in Instagram directly from @vitadaily.ca. Please be wary of fake accounts, which often use similar handles with an extra or missing letter, number or symbol. We will never ask for a payment or for your credit card number, and we will never ask you to click through a link. If you are unsure whether you have been contacted, via Instagram, by us or a fake account, email us before responding.