Thank you so much Liane and thank you all for attending tonight’s event. Edward Said outlined the predicament that disfigures modernity, mass deportation, imprisonment, population transfer, collective disposition, dispossession, and forced migration. In illustrating and problematizing notions of forward progress maintaining the status quo vis-à-vis inertia and benevolent Canadian multiculturalism this symposium disfigures identity itself as a central concept that must also be unpacked. The identity of the individual or group either projected, assumed, subverted, resisted, parodied, or any combination of techniques or other, disrupt hegemonic discourses that seek to ideologically and at time physically confine, constrain, and fix identities for racialized migrant groups and by extension people of colour.
Disfiguring Identity: Art, Migration, and Exile is an extension of this rigorous engagement with the ideas of Canada and Canada coming to terms with it’s own history and present. This two day symposium will critically examine intersections of racist discourse, exclusionary policy, migratory stigma, and visual art responses. Tomorrow we will have ten speakers of three panels discussing the performativity and public representation of migrant histories, institutions that actively curate content from marginalized and racialized communities and a panel on history, memory and colonial archive where voices from liminal spaces fracture the comfort of exclusionary “national history” and tonight we screen films featuring eight visionary Canadian directors. Their works engage with identity, racism, and migration and are powerful tools for sustaining and fostering dialogue.
Allow me to introduce two people who have been influential in not just tonight’s event but in the overall project of Disfiguring Identity: Art, Migration, and Exile. The first is Kira Wu, who is a visual artist, who has worked with video, installation art, and photography, whilst she was born in Hong Kong, Wu immigrated to Canada in 1976 with her family and grew up in Alberta. She received her MFA from SFU School for the Contemporary Arts in 1998. And Wu’s art explores the intersection between personal narratives, memory, and cultural identity. Her video work and art installation has been shown locally and internationally including such places as New York City, as well as in France, and Wu is the founding member of South of Fraser Inter-Art Collective, SOFIA/C. She is currently the Chair of the Fine Arts Department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, where she teaches photography, and video studio art. The second person I want to invite on stage is Paul Wong. Paul Wong is Paul Wong. The amazing Paul Wong; a multimedia artist, award winning artist, curator and organizer of public intervention since the mid- 1970s. Wong is known for his engagement with issues of race, sex, and death. His work varies from conceptual performances to narrative videos, photography, and installations which merge Chinese Canadian cultural perspectives. Almost 25 years ago, Paul curated a landmark exhibition titled Yellow Peril Reconsidered that examined the racist discourses of identity and migration. Today, with the 100th anniversary of the Komagata Maru episode, we once again turn to visual artists to guide a conversation by the power of art and artist to critically address cultural stereotypes and the experiences of migration. Please, invite on stage Paul Wong and Kira Wu.