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INTERSECTIONS FESTIVAL / MYSEUM INTERSECTIONS 2021 / Your Future Heritage(s) of Chinatown


Your Future Heritage(s) of Chinatown

Documenting the architecture and spaces of Chinatowns and telling their stories, the installations and artifacts in this section are witnesses to the neighbourhood changes over the decades from urban renewal and development projects, expropriation, population changes, and gentrification.


Linda Zhang mapped the buildings of Toronto Chinatowns using drones and 3D scanning technology. As she tried to find more information on the neighbourhoods’ heritage buildings, she discovered the lack of architectural drawings and documentation. In the initial stages, I set out to scan the architectural streets of Chinatown in 3D every year to at the very least make a detailed record of it. It is changing rapidly and Chinatowns are often overlooked as a site worth documenting or recording. From then, the next question became about how we could use these heritage technologies to engage, support, or give agency to the community. In response to the question, we came up with the “Build Your Own Chinatown board game”.This board game asks how we remember and preserve places. As only 10 out of the 99 game pieces in the shape of individual Chinatown buildings are allowed on the board, the game becomes an invitation for conversation between two players who have to negotiate which buildings to keep and how they see the collective future of Chinatown.

A large-scale wooden model of the Chinatown East Gate is installed in the gallery, acting as a backdrop to the game and holding several finished game sets Zhang has replicated in porcelain. With all these interventions, along with rising racial tensions and the current pandemic impacting Chinatowns, what becomes of a community’s centre? These works are fighting against the possibility of Chinatowns disappearing and asking us to join in to ensure the future of these cultural centres and our heritage.

[1] City of Toronto, By-Law No.99-80 to adopt an amendment to Part I of the Official Plan for the City of Toronto Planning Area respecting South-East Spadina (Toronto, Canada, 1980)

Project Team

Linda Zhang (she/her) is an artist, a licensed architect, certified advanced operations drone pilot and educator. She is a principal at Studio Pararaum and an assistant professor at Ryerson SID. Her research areas include memory, cultural heritage, and identity as they are indexically embodied through emergent technologies, matter, and material processes.
IG: @lindayzhang @pararaum
www.lindazhang.de www.pararaum.com

Amy Yan (she/her) is a graduate of the Ryerson School of Interior Design in Toronto. She is interested in exploring the intersections between design and storytelling with her work, and in finding new ways to be able to convey narratives that can be experienced visually, emotionally and at all scales. Her passions include illustration, 3D prototyping and longboarding.
IG: @aypproductions

Georgia Barrington (she/her) is a mature student in her third year of a BID at the Ryerson School of Interior Design. Before beginning the program, she worked in marketing and communications for four years at ParticipACTION and in various roles in Toronto’s non-profit and arts and culture sector.
IG: @gbarrington

Reese-Joan Young (she/her) is in her fourth year of studying Interior Design at Toronto’s Ryerson University. Her eclectic work is guided by her interest in designing real-life and virtual environments that are narrative-based and sensorially engaging. Currently, she is conducting a design research project in partnership with Georgia Barrington, funded by Ryerson’s Creative Technology Lab that explores the hearth and its identity as a domestic symbol.

Jimmy Tran (he/him) is the Research Technology Officer at the Ryerson University Library Collaboratory. He is also a postdoctoral fellow at the Network-Centric Apply Research Team lab in Computer Science at Ryerson University where continues his research in robotics and computer vision.

Previously exhibited as part of: Griffin Art Projects (GRIFFIN) is a non-profit art residency and gallery located in North Vancouver devoted to supporting artists in the production of new work through its residency program, and in creating new research on contemporary Canadian and international art, artists and art collections from around the world in its exhibition program. GRIFFIN is a non-collecting institution that has quickly become a vibrant contributor to the North Vancouver cultural landscape and visual art practices in the region through its exhibitions, residency, and public programs. Griffin Art Projects’ exhibitions and events are always free and open to all to attend.

Whose Chinatown? Examining Chinatown Gazes in Art, Archives, and Collections, brings together an art history of Chinatowns and their communities by historical and contemporary Canadian artists. Chinatowns have always been vibrant locales serving their residents and visitors. How have these neighbourhoods and their inhabitants been depicted or have chosen to be represented? How are narratives constructed around the idea and spaces of Chinatown and what are the colonial notions that underwrite some of these relations? In thinking about the stories, histories, and spaces of Chinatowns, and their importance to their communities as centres, what are ways that artists, art collectives, and community groups are changing public discourse, planning, and perceptions around Chinatowns? The paintings, sketches, photographs, videos, sculptures, installation, collaborative community projects, bookworks, board games, ephemera, archival material, and artifacts here, share a spirit of activism and advocacy by creating dialogue around cultural community and place. They map the histories and changes in our Chinatowns over the decades, and attest to the existence of forgotten artists and businesses. They also ask viewers to imagine the future of Chinatowns and their heritage.

For more information click here: https://www.griffinartprojects.ca/exhibitions/whose-chinatown

Whose Chinatown Griffin Art Projects Installation Team:
Mark Johnse, Sara-Jeanne Bourget, Katsumi Kimoto, Christian Nicolay, Nathaniel Marchand and Brittney Groetelaars

Creative + Workshop Technologists

RSID Shop: Carol Kaifosh and Amanda Bly

Creative Technology Lab: Jonathon Anderson, Adrian Kenny, Arnel Espanol


张亦飞(Linda Zhang)的作品“设计你自己的唐人街”,使用无人机和3D技术,把多伦多唐人街东段的99幢建筑进行了扫描和打印,并由此发明了唐人街桌游 —— 希望观众参与,设计出自己的唐人街。

张亦飞:最初我的设计是,未来十年,我每年都会用3D扫描唐人街的建筑街道等,至少这是个记录,这从未有人做过。下一步,我们如何使用这些技术与社区结合,这就是唐人街桌游创意的开始。多伦多唐人街东段有99座建筑,我们使用3D把它们都打印出来了,而在桌游中, 你只可以选择10座建筑放在上面 —— 所以,你需要和其他参与者协商讨论,来决定哪些建筑可以保留下来,哪些建筑更为重要,更有价值。

张亦飞(Linda Zhang)是一位艺术家、注册建筑师、认证的高级无人机操控员和培训师,现为Pararaum 工作室的负责人和瑞尔森大学的助理教授。其研究领域包括随着新兴技术、物质和材料工艺涌现的记忆、文化遗产和认证。


For more information click here: https://www.griffinartprojects.ca/exhibitions/whose-chinatown

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