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Whose Stories?

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KAMLOOPS ART GALLERY, Kamloops BC – To Dec 31

Diyan Achjadi, Reaching the City from The Further Adventures of Girl series, 2008, inkjet on paper.
Collection of the Kamloops Art Gallery, purchased with financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts

by Michael Turner

The 1980s are remembered popularly as a decade of outsized shoulder pads, ear-splitting synthesizers and “greed is good” entrepreneurialism. For those enrolled in art school theory classes, it was a time of post-structuralism, when grand narratives like Marxist-Leninism and capitalism were being dismantled. Much of this deconstructive work was inspired by unanswerable questions; yet only now, decades later, is it customary for us to consider the responses these questions engendered as artistic representations, as evidenced by exhibitions like Whose Stories?

Guest curated by Makiko Hara, Whose Stories? features the work of six artists of Asian descent working in a range of media, including video installation, photography, animation, print media, drawing, collage and ceramics. At the heart of the exhibition are responses to questions such as “What experiences are excluded? Whose voices are silenced and marginalized? How can we add our voices to create an alternative, inclusive, and more truthful history that restores individual human rights and dignity, and transforms our own future?”

Tomoyo Ihaya’s works on paper respond to the protests of Tibetan exiles, while Diyan Achjadi, who grew up in Indonesia under the Suharto regime, uses visual languages drawn from popular children’s media to depict landscapes of authoritarian control. Philippine installation artist Mark Salvatus weaves local myths, symbols and family experiences to highlight the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on his community. COVID-19 is also present in the work of Tokyo-based UJINO, who finds parallels between the resultant lockdown and the post-war modernization of Japan. Naoko Fukumaru uses kintsugi joinery to emphasize transformation over repair. And Load na Dito (an artistic research project started in 2016 by Salvatus and Mayumi Hirano), has organized a series of community workshops aimed at sharing personal stories online.

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