Canadian-Japanese “invisible” stories on display at the Surrey Art Gallery this summer – Surrey Now-Leader


The Surrey Art Gallery’s summer exhibitions aim to “make visible the invisible stories of Japanese Canadians once again”.

Cindy Mochizuki’s personal exhibition “Autumn strawberry” opens Saturday (June 26), as does Henry Tsang’s “Hastings Park” both until August 28.

Pre-booking is required to visit the gallery over the next two months, minimum, with limited entry to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. For details, call 604-501-5566.

Mochizuki’s multimedia installation takes visitors back in time to Japanese-Canadian farms in the years before WWII, with a focus on the Strawberry Hill area of ​​Surrey.

“My grandparents had berry farms in the Walnut Grove, Langley area, so the whole ‘Japanese Canadian in agriculture and berry farms’ angle has a personal connection to my own story,” Mochizuki said Now-Leader.

Two summers ago, the Vancouver artist stayed at the gallery’s TechLab to collect berry culture stories and stories from Japanese Canadians from Surrey and the Fraser Valley.

From there, she threaded a series of short vignettes imagined through a 60-minute animation (hand-painted and digital), projected onto the walls and screens of the gallery. She combined reality with imagined characters and scenarios, in accordance with an artistic practice of historical recreation.

“In 2019, I met dozens of nisei and sansei (Second and third generation Japanese Canadians), many of whom are now in their 80s and 90s, so few are still alive to remember that time, ”Mochizuki explained.

“They would have been little children on the farms their parents and grandparents owned, and I began to collect memories and conversations about their time. We’re working with time and memory here, so that’s what they can remember as elders from around 1930 to 1942 – their time as children.

When people heard about the project and started contacting Mochizuki, the project started to take off.

“If they couldn’t come to Surrey, I would communicate with them in other ways,” she recalls. I used to get these emails saying, ‘I have a story for you, I remember so and so had a farm on this street in Surrey, and I remember a man with a leghorn chicken and I could find for you. “This whole hustle and bustle started to happen.

If it hadn’t been for the pandemic, the show would invite people to “take everything into account for an extended period,” the artist explained. But now the numbers of admissions are limited.

“Originally the idea was to get some people, the storytellers, to come back to perform,” Mochizuki added. “A second part of the project brings me to work with a choreographer (with 605 Collective). As a member of the audience, you would have that kind of intimate tour of these worlds. “

Animation is probably the perfect medium for “Autumn Strawberry,” Mochizuki said, “because there are things a camera never documented, and so we kind of had to bend and transform things. pandemic, we can’t do that element live, but we bring back some of the descendants, the grandchildren, of those who were berry growers, and they’ll do a performance for the camera that will end up being a dance filming afterwards. C ‘is multifaceted, with many employees involved.

On Saturday July 17 starting at 7 p.m., Mochizuki and Tsang will talk about their work at a one-hour event on Facebook Live and Youtube. Find details on surrey.ca/art gallery.

With “Hastings Park,” Tsang picks up where Mochizuki left off, in a multimedia installation of photographs and projections of four buildings in Vancouver’s Hastings Park. There, in 1942, approximately 8,000 Canadians of Japanese descent were rounded up and detained before being sent to internment and labor camps in the interior of British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario. . Among the four structures is the Livestock Building, a location now associated with popular pig breeds and the Pacific National Exhibition Children’s Zoo.

“Tsang used a thermal camera to create his images based in part on the compositions and staging of Leonard Frank’s documentary photographs of the Japanese-Canadian internment at this temporary incarceration site,” says an event notice . “A thermal imager is typically used in the construction industry to display temperature differences by detecting light rays that are invisible to the human eye. Such photographs can reveal leaks or cracks in a building.

Using the camera, Tsang said, “I ask the buildings to remember when they housed 8,000 people. This camera not only exposes the current state of the buildings, but also the past and hidden stories that go into them. He can see things that we cannot see.

This summer also on display at the Surrey Art Gallery is “Arts 2021”, an annual juried art exhibition organized by the Arts Council of Surrey. This year’s exhibition features more than 50 paintings, drawings, sculptures, textile arts and digital art, in and on the rooms and walls of the gallery.



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