Selected Hauntings is a series of embroidered textile scrolls hung as a labyrinthian installation. The ghostly panels gently sway and turn as the wind of passers-by affect which other panels they face. Each one contains words and sentiments that have haunted me in ambiguously positive and negative ways in relation to my failure to fulfill racialized and gendered expectations as a queer Cantonese femme. The challenges of diasporic identity and language have been ongoing struggles for me as a child of second-generation parents. The hauntings include both internal and external voices, caught between the hetero-patriarchal ideals of being “a good Asian daughter,” self-imposed respectability politics, and the white hegemony of so-called Canada.
The installation’s materiality is also a negotiation between the fear of self-orientalism and acceptance. As ink brush scroll paintings and silk brocade are easily fetishized and stereotyped, the traditional format is kept without the typically colourful accents. The gray tones and sheer texture are used as tools to deny the white gaze an essentialized and palatable form of content.
Seeing the panels juxtaposed together creates a narrative that may be healing, by showing the relationships between seemingly isolated feelings. By connecting them to larger social and historical ideas, they allude to the ways in which the violence of unspoken trauma and displacement creep into our lives. The installation reveals many insecurities and fears we may only want to discuss within our own communities. I hope this may serve as an opening to bring the vulnerability of these pieces into our day-to-day conversations.
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