May 12 – August 18, 2018 I Opening May 12, 2018 2 – 4pm I
Curated by Paul Wong and SD Holman
Presentation Partner: On Main Gallery
Karin Lee: QueerSUM 心
Queer-sum a “Chinglish” translation and play on the words Queer Love, alludes to queer attraction that people experience, even though they believe themselves to be straight identified – or queer-sum (sum=heart=love).
QueerSUM心 presents three of Karin Lee’s media works: a 2-channel remix of her classic 16mm film My Sweet Peony Remix, a fantastical drama shot in the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens; Portrait of a Girl, a documentary shot in Beijing; and Small Pleasures, a period drama set in Barkerville BC.
The works not only investigate sentiments of being “Queer-sum,” but pay tribute to Vancouver’s Chinatown—where Lee spent her childhood—and examine the underlying racism which contributed to the very creation of “Chinatowns” amidst the colonization of Indigenous peoples.
My Sweet Peony Remix, shot in 16mm film in 1994, is a short fantastical drama that spins a tale of sexuality, gender and desire featuring Zamma – a Chinese Canadian garden guide (played by Sook-Yin Lee) who is stalked by a white feminist outreach worker and a Caucasian Maoist student, but is awakened by her attraction to an Asian-Canadian dyke, all the while perplexed by an other-world cross-dressing Taoist monk. My Sweet Peony Remix plays with the notion of cultural identity (or identity politics of the 90s) and race: then and now—what remains the same and what has changed in the 25 years since the film was made.
Portrait of a Girl is a peek into the life of Han Dong Qing, a cage dancer who works in the Beijing club scene. She speaks about her life, her story of adoption and her sexuality. Candid and defiant, she is always searching for love, acceptance and family.
Small Pleasures tells the story of three women from very different worlds trying to convey complex ideas about feminist resistance to each other through a common language: Chinook Jargon—an intercultural trade language used throughout the Pacific Coast until the early 1900s. Set in the late 1800s in Barkerville, this film explores how marginalized women in late nineteenth century rural Canada create individual identities in a world prescribed to fit the needs of men.
About the artist:
“Karin Lee is a Canadian Screen Award-winning, trailblazing filmmaker who has focused on telling stories about women and Chinese-Canadians for more than three decades.” Sabrina Furminger / Westender June 7, 2017
Born and raised in Vancouver, Karin is a unique storyteller whose critical voice and perspective touches on the past and the present, both local and international. An artist who constantly traverses new territory, Lee challenges film and media forms and addresses new audiences.
Themes of trans-Pacific migration, gender, identity and intercultural contact surface in her documentaries such as Made in China, which portrayed Chinese adoptees in Canada searching for their identity; Cedar and Bamboo, which highlighted intermarriage between Chinese immigrants and First Nations people; and Canadian Steel, Chinese Grit, which depicted the outcome of migration for the Chinese who came to Canada to work on the Canadian Pacific Railway. Her early influences and links to China grew from her exposure to the ideology and the political movement of Chinese socialism in Canada through Lee’s father, who ran a fledgling communist bookstore in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in the 1960s – the 2005 film Comrade Dad.
Lee’s art has been heavily influenced by her own family history. For example, her great-grandmother Tsang Ho Shee, who herself had bound feet when she arrived in Barkerville in 1901, is the inspiration for Small Pleasures. Now, three generations after Tsang Ho Shee arrived in Canada, Lee’s realization that she benefited from her great-grandmother’s acts of feminist resistance, has driven her to expand representations of the history of marginalized women in the Chinese diaspora and, most importantly, to contribute to the minimal coverage of women’s stories in the arts and Canadian media.
In 2001, Karin received a Gemini: The Canada Award for her groundbreaking documentary Made in China, about Chinese children adopted in Canada. In 2005 she received a BC Leo Diversity in Cultures Award and 2015 –diversity award from Women in Film for Cedar and Bamboo.
She has just completed the TV pilot for Plan B, a black comedic drama series set in a women’s sexual health clinic. She is currently in pre-production on Girl with Big Feet (Ts’ekoo Cha Ke), a period drama and Incorrigible – a feature documentary about women who were incarcerated in Ontario for being morally “incorrigible”.
She was a Sessional Instructor at SFU’s Asia-Canada program and Adjunct Professor at UBC’s Film Production program. Karin was awarded the Mayor’s Arts Award for Film and New Media Artist in 2014 and was nominated for the 2017 YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Education, Training and Development and received the Spotlight Award from Vancouver Women in Film and Video Society in 2017.
The gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday 12-6pm, closed on Sundays and Mondays, and statutory holidays.