Afternoon in Chinatown During 40th New York’s AAPI Heritage Celebration

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40th Annual Asian American and Pacific Islander Celebration

It was a gorgeous late spring day in New York this Sunday, so I decided to jump on my bike and head down to Chinatown for the 40th Festival for the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

I already missed yesterday’s opening of the #StarringJohnCho exhibit at Pearl River Mart, so decided I would not miss going there again, and added it to an expanding list of spots I needed to visit during my stroll.

Before going anywhere, I essentially took care of the essentials, first catching the last act of the festival, a choreography by the MoustacheCat Dance about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Got a pre-summer haircut and did my Chinese groceries.

40th Annual Asian American and Pacific Islander Celebration (last act, a choreography on internment of Japanese Americans during WWII)
Where Mott Street begins
Chinatown Fair Arcade
Mott & Pell during the 40th Annual Asian American and Pacific Islander Celebration
Taiwan/Republic of China flag on Mott & Pell

I thought, why is the Taiwan flag (probably more thought of as a Republic of China flag) so prominent in 2019? Maybe because this is Chinatown? (Like, in Montreal’s Chinatown, they still had a branch of the Kuomintang 10 years ago, perhaps just nominally related?)

I also stopped by Chinatown Fair, a video arcade that opened in the 40s and whose original incarnation existed until 2011, re-opened since under management. I don’t know any of that information first-hand, but I will return to Chinatown on Thursday to check out the screening of The Lost Arcade documentary on it, at MoCA ($15, at 6:30-8:30 p.m.).

After the supermarket run at Hong Kong Supermarket to replenish my stock of instant noodles and affordable veggies, I went to MoCA to check out the current exhibit. I saw that it was called Moon Represents My Heart, after the Teresa Teng song, thinking it would be something on the Taiwanese mother of Mandopop. In fact, it was a very personally interesting exhibit on music identify for hyphenated Chinese that I only had about 20 minutes to enjoy.

In my last years in Montreal, before moving to Hong Kong, I used to run a music show on the community radio about alternative styles of music sung in, primarily, Chinese languages (which I have mediocre control of). It was during that period that I found out about all sorts of Chinese rock bands under labels like Modernsky and Maybe Mars, twee pop Hong Kong bands like the now-defunct The Marshmallow Kisses or the still alive and kicking My Little Airport, or large music festivals in Taiwan dedicated to (more) independent music like Spring Scream.

So, definitely I would have to go back this summer. It’s on view until September 15.

Moon Represents My Heart at MoCA (May 2-Sept. 15, 2019)
Moon Represents My Heart at MoCA (May 2-Sept. 15, 2019)
Moon Represents My Heart at MoCA (May 2-Sept. 15, 2019)
Moon Represents My Heart at MoCA (May 2-Sept. 15, 2019)

I found out bumping into a friend at MoCA that Banana Mag was launching its 5th edition, aka 005, on the same day. I think it was after that friend spotted my collection of Giant Robot that he spilled the beans about Banana, a beautifully-produced magazine with stylish photography and original reporting that include interviews with high-profile New York Asian American cultural figures, food recipes, discussions on cultural trends. They do share some common themes that take me back to the mid-2000s when I discovering my identity as an Asian-Canadian.

I also got my hands on an elusive copy of long-gone 001! Here’s the preview, of me flipping through pages with greasy with hot wings fingers:

Banana Mag 005 launch at Canal Street Market
Banana Mag 005 launch at Canal Street Market

Next and last stop of the day would be the Pearl River Mart, the chinoiserie shop that re-opened on Broadway and Walker, on the Tribeca side of Chinatown, which now also hosts an art gallery for their artist-in-residence program, in the back mezzanine.

Worth seeing for yourself, if you’re in the area. The current exhibit is from William Yu, the artist-activist behind #StarringJohnCho. It’ll be on view until July 7.

Pearl River Mart mezzanine art gallery
#starringjohncho at Pearl River Mart (May 18-July 7, 2019)

Cantonese theatre on Lamma Island

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Cantonese theatre at Yung Shue Wan soccer pitch, Lamma Island

Every year, there’s a bamboo theatre set up from scratch at the soccer pitch near my home. In a matter of days, a temporary theatre made out of bamboo sticks (and surely some metal support) is setup to host Cantonese opera for Tin Hau’s Birthday on the 23rd of the Lunar Year. The soccer pitch happens to be just across the street from the Tin Hau Temple and just by the harbourfront in Yung Shue Wan.

It’s interesting to live in what’s technically the New Territories and definitely a rural area, which is only a 25-minute ferry ride to Asia’s most important financial centre. The festivities will go on until May 2 and, exceptionally, ferries out of Yung Shue Wan will run until 12:30 a.m.

DEBRIS: Vhils at Central Pier No. 4, Hong Kong

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Vhils at Central Pier No. 4, Hong Kong

Generally when the top of my pier is transformed into something, it’s either some sort of private party for luxury brands or a showroom for development projects. This time around for art week, my pier was transformed into an exhibit by Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto aka “Vhils”. His techniques range from screen-printing, metal etching and super high frame rate videography.

I only realized that the exhibit was right under my nose when a former colleague tagged this neon sign installation posted this.

After climbing two flights of stairs to reach the roof of the pier (whose upper floors I never had the chance to enter despite commuting through every day for the last six years), you will enter a tent-like temporary structure and start with portraits made of columns of styrofoams. It’s unmistakably the artist’ style: the edges, the hybridity, the verticals.

The spine of the exhibit is a super slow-mo video taken on the streets of Hong Kong playing on long horizontal screens, which might be around Tsim Sha Tsui, the Star Ferry and Nathan Road, with a mesmerizing soundtrack of beeps and bops from the city and/or your Facebook webapp. Who knew you could either make lights flicker in post-prod or that they just flicker on their own when in filmed at a very high rate?

Some of the art used found materials in Hong Kong, like doors that the artist etched faces on, or paper advertising posters that he would stick together and carve into so to reveal faces.

The exhibit “DEBRIS” runs until tomorrow, April 4 at 8pm.


Ai Weiwei’s Forever Bicycles in Toronto

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It was a bit after I saw a photo posted by Kristen Fung on her Instagram that I decided to make a detour to check out Ai Weiwei’s art installation before hopping on my bus back to Montreal.

The thing was smaller than I imagined it from pictures seen online (really). A nearby stand labelled Forever Bicycles (aka Yong Jiu 永久) as conceptual art. It was re-exposed, grander than the one in Taipei, for the Toronto Nuit Blanche last week. It seems a lot more dramatic too without the dark rubber tires, with only the pure, cold metal in the Toronto version.

You can peek in and even walk under the metal structure composed of several dozens (probably hundreds) of superimposed bicycle frames, or parts of bicycle frames.


There was something really invigorating to watch the succession and repetition ad nauseam of regular forms (triangles, circles, arcs that make up circles), like you would often see in a data visualisation with lots and lots of data.

The message, if there is one, probably lies instead in the composition of the sculpture: bicycles, symbol of the pre-economic boom China, dismembered and reassembled into what looks like nothing, but that is grandiose to look at. Wat?





See the entire set on Flickr

Emoi: Lifestyle design made in China

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If you are familiar with Muji, you will understand what aesthetics Emoi is referring to. I was travelling to Shenzhen this weekend and stayed a night at the city’s YHA Youth Hostel located in an art and culture district called OCT-LOFT (if you know 798, it’s kinda Shenzhen’s equivalent of it).

In short, I was walking down one of alleys during the evening and saw this brightly lit shop with large windows and very minimalistic counters reminiscent of a Apple and Ikea. It was called emoi, which translates in French as “ruckus”. As many of my friends know, I’ve been looking for a new bag for months, and it seems like emoi had the answer to my quest. I liked the style and I liked the design. I particularly stuck on the wool felt bags, because I never saw bags made with such a material and that were not necessarily a women’s bags/handbag.

It was the first time I encountered this brand, but at least two of my (designer) classmates had bought products from emoi. One of them had a wool felt wallet, which ages very nicely, like a fleece sweater would. I guess that even if not unique, one of the nice thing to see is that it is a domestic store, from mainland China. We will perhaps see more and more of these original stores made in China, and before long, Chinese companies will help drive design and innovation internationally.

It’s Chinese to Me

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Screenshot-It's Chinese To Me - Mozilla Firefox-1

While I’m here in Hong Kong working on online social networks in China, I thought it was a very interesting case of cosmic coincidence to come across an art project made out of Montreal using the Chinese online sphere and language parsing.

It’s Chinese to Me is an online installation by Montreal-based artist Ellen Tang, along with programmers Alexandre Quessy, Yan Chen, Louis-Philippe Huberdeau. The application chooses writings from female bloggers in China, splits up the characters into tokens (words of one or two characters), and does a search on Flickr. It then presents the pictures superimposed with the words, offering an interesting way of translating and seeing what these women are talking about, without necessarily having to know Chinese.

Coincidentally, I found out this week that women represented 55-57% of all users on Sina Weibo (the “Chinese Twitter”) using a sample of the most popular users from all regions of China. Might not seem a lot, but we’re talking about a 10-14% difference versus men…

Le projet du district culturel de West Kowloon

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西九龍文娛藝術區 West Kowloon Cultural District - consultation pamphlet in English

西九龍文娛藝術區 West Kowloon Cultural District - consultation pamphlet in English
Dépliant du district culturel de West Kowloon, à Hong Kong

Quartier des spectacles de Montréal ! Dans le pamplet du 西九龍文娛藝術區 West Kowloon Cultural District à Hong Kong
Notre Quartier des spectacles dans leur dépliant promotionnel…

Le site officiel du district culturel de West Kowloon :

Alors qu’on a le Quartier des spectacles à Montréal, Hong Kong aura le sien, qui s’appelle en anglais le « West Kowloon Cultural District ». Kowloon, c’est la pointe du continent, au sud des Nouveaux territoires de Hong Kong, et ce qu’on considère comme un des vieux districts (l’autre étant la rive nord de l’île de Hong Kong) et « centre-ville » de Hong Kong.

Comme on fait les choses en grand à Hong Kong, celui du port parfumé coûtera au secteur public une modique somme de 21.6 milliards de dollars de Hong Kong (à peu près 3 milliards de dollars canadiens). Notre Quartier des spectacles n’en a coûté que 150 millions de dollars pour les travaux de la Place des arts. C’est sans oublier le coût du remplissage (reclamation) du secteur de West Kowloon pour la toute aussi modique somme de 12 milliards (1.8 millions de dollars canadiens).

En plus d’être un district culturel (juste une opportunité de développer et d’amener de l’argent dans les coffres de l’état, diront certains), West Kowloon se veut également un futur point névralgique de transport de passagers. En effet, la future ligne express de train Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong, qui coupe à 48 minutes la durée du voyage entre Guangzhou (Canton) et Hong Kong qui prenait auparavant deux heures, aura comme terminus West Kowloon si le gouvernement obtient ce qu’il veut. La plupart des traversiers vers des villes chinoises avoisinantes vont et viennent déjà du Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal, sur les abords du futur district culturel.

Je n’ai pas tout suivi, mais le projet de West Kowloon se veut aussi une opportunité pour les gens de se défouler et de dire ce qu’ils pensent du gouvernement sur la place publique. De ce que j’ai pu comprendre, le district culturel n’est qu’une façon détournée de créer de la terre (en remplissant du terrain de la mer) et de développer un nouveau quartier, ce qui signifie de l’argent en taxes foncières pour le gouvernement. Plusieurs groupes non-gouvernementaux, comme Designing Hong Kong, se lèvent pour avoir leur mot à dire sur West Kowloon. La nouvelle ligne de train Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong est également une cible pour les groupes de pression, à cause des délocalisations forcées qu’elle causera.

En tout cas, si je me fie au dépliant (photo ci-dessus), le West Kowloon Cultural District ne sera pas complété avant plusieurs années…

365-7 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

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上下斜睥:李香蘭上・下禾輋原稿展|Rainbow’s wo che village original show
上下斜睥:李香蘭上・下禾輋原稿展 – Exposition : Wo Che, le village de Rainbow

Le Foo Tak, au 365 Hennessy Road (j’ai aussi vu le 367) est situé à la confluence des rues Tin Lok Lane (天樂里) et Marsh Road (馬師道) avec Hennessy. Non loin de là, le tramway en provenance de Happy Valley (跑馬地) rejoint la ligne principale du tramway de l’île de Hong Kong. C’est là, à côté d’un commerce de prêt sur gage, qu’on peut trouver cet immeuble à moitié loué par des artistes.

365 Hennessy Road

Le 14e étage du Foo Tak sert (ou servait?) de quartiers généraux à la troupe du KLUUBB, un collectif d’artistes pluridisciplinaires, dont certains avaient aidé à créer Folktales From Many Lands.

L’année dernière, j’ai participé à leur événement, sans trop me rendre compte que le reste de l’immeuble (deux proprios différents, on m’a dit) était à moitié occupé par des artistes qui oeuvre dans tous les genres. Pourtant, il s’agit d’un des quartiers les plus chers à Hong Kong, sis entre le district commercial de Causeway Bay, et le quartier des affaires de Admiralty/Central.

Dessin par Rainbow Leung
Dessin par Rainbow Leung de la famille de l’artiste

上下斜睥:李香蘭上・下禾輋原稿展|Rainbow’s wo che village original show

Par hasard, lundi soir, je me suis retrouvé à nouveau dans le même immeuble, mais à l’adresse du 365 Hennessy Road. Au 1er étage, une dessinatrice dans la début vingtaine, Rainbow Leung (nom de plume “Li Xiang Lan 李香蘭), expose ses dessins au ACO, le Art & Culture Outreach.

Son oeuvre repose sur des histoires qu’elle raconte sur son village natal de Wo Che 禾輋, dans les environs de Shatin, Nouveaux Territoires. Leung dessine sa famille, ses voisins et ses amis, et a même récemment lancé un roman dessiné publié par l’un des plus grands éditeurs de Hong Kong. À chaque fin de semaine, on la retrouve dans les pages du Ming Pao 明報(disponible dans les quartiers chinois à travers le monde), alors qu’elle interviewe des Monsieur et Madame tout-le-monde avant de dessiner leur portrait.

Un de mes amis, le photographe Derrick Chang, vient de publier un essai photo sur Rainbow, pour le compte du site CNNGo. L’exposition se déroulera jusqu’à ce dimanche 18 octobre et l’entrée est libre 365 Hennessy Road, 1/F).

365 Hennessy Road
Outils de travail de Karden C

Au cours de la même visite, j’ai aussi fait la rencontre de Karden C, dont le studio se trouve au 6e étage du même immeuble. Karden, dont le nom en chinois est fa-yuen 花苑 (qui signifie jardin), partage son spacieux studio avec un danseur moderne dont le nom est incidemment siu-yuen (petit jardin).

La jeune femme se concentre sur l’art de l’estampe. Très impliquée socialement, elle a tout récemment participé à une exposition par des artistes hongkongais en mémoire du 20e anniversaire de 6/4 (événements de Tiananmen). En 2007, son estampe du Queen’s Pier (voir ci-bas) a servi d’icône au mouvement pour sa préservation qui a ultimement mené à une grève de la faim.

in the memory of Star Ferry and the Clock Tower in Central
In the memory of Star Ferry and the Clock Tower in Central, par Karden C

Derrick Chang’s Life at the Epicentre continues at McGill University

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Life at the Epicentre, Derrick Chang

Life at the Epicentre, Derrick Chang

Derrick Chang’s exhibition Life at the Epicentre is continuing at Redpath Library on the McGill University campus. The last day to see the photos is next Saturday, September 26th.

You can buy prints from this exhibition at $7 a piece, or $5/each if you buy 3 or more. Please contact the event’s curator, Julian Xue:

Life at the Epicentre: exposition photo par Derrick Chang à McGill

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This is a photo exhibition by my friend Derrick Chang at McGill University in Montreal. The exhibition is currently at the McIntyre Medical Building on Drummond and Pine, but is moving down the hill to the Redpath Library, starting on September 20th, 2009 (this Sunday!), until only the 26th.

Photo by Derrick Chang

Life at the Epicentre exhibit, photos by Derrick Chang

C’est le Mois de la photo à Montréal, alors j’en profite pour vous parler de l’exposition de photos de Derrick Chang, un photographe humanitaire canadien d’origine chinoise et vivant maintenant à Hong Kong. Au mois de décembre 2008, Derrick s’est déplacé dans la province du Sichuan pour rendre compte de la vie dans cette région dévastée par un séisme, le 12 mai 2008.

Il a capté la dévastation, mais surtout la force de vivre des survivants. Les enfants dans les photos sont surprenament souriants, peut-être par mécanisme de défense, malgré la mort omniprésente. La vie reprend tranquillement son cours et c’est ce qui ressort le plus de sa photographie.

L’exposition se poursuit jusqu’au 20 septembre au 5e étage de l’édifice médical McIntyre sur le campus de l’Université McGill. La semaine prochaine, du 20 au 26 septembre, Life at the Epicentre sera ouvert au public dans le hall de la bibliothèque Redpath (Rue McTavish, coin Sherbrooke).

Les imprimés originaux sont en vente à partir de 5$. Veuillez contacter le curateur de l’exposition, Julian Xue:

Vous pouvez aussi consulter quelques-unes des photos exposées sur le site Web de Derrick:


This is a photo exhibition by my friend Derrick Chang at McGill University in Montreal. The exhibition is currently at the McIntyre Medical Building (5th floor) on Drummond and Pine, but is moving down the hill to the Redpath Library, starting on September 20th, 2009 (this Sunday!), until only the 26th.

Derrick visited the Chinese province of Sichuan, six months after the earthquake of May 12th, 2008, devasted the region in its wake. He went to the towns of Yingxiu and Dujiangyan, at the epicentre, where people continued on with their lives. It’s also the Mois de la photo until mid-October.

Original prints will be available starting at 5$ each. People interested should contact the exhibition’s curator, Julian Xue:

Derrick Chang with children in Yu Zixi village