October 2 to December 31, 2021
Central Gallery
UJINO
Tomoyo Ihaya
Load na Dito
Mark Salvatus
Naoko Fukumaru
Diyan Achjadi
Reflecting on the experiences and narratives of "others," Whose Stories? shares the work of six artists of Asian descent. Through video installation, photography, animation, print media, drawing, collage, and restored ceramic works, artists Diyan Achjadi, Load na Dito, Naoko Fukumaru, Tomoyo Ihaya, Mark Salvatus, and UJINO convey personal histories told within a community of artists and woven across generations.

Developed through vivid pictorial narratives and animations, Diyan Achjadi’s work examines underlying ambiguous ideologies drawn from children’s popular culture. Currently based in Vancouver, BC, Achjadi spent her childhood in Indonesia during the Suharto regime in the 1970s and 80s. She uses a visual language drawn from popular children's media to tell stories that navigate militaristic and apocalyptic landscapes through the character of GIRL, a young girl who could represent an avatar of the artist herself.

Born in Japan and now based in Vancouver, BC, Tomoyo Ihaya’s work responds to the protests of Tibetan exiles as well as the racial and human rights abuses of refugees. Through detailed works on paper, Ihaya incorporates Tibetan Buddhist philosophy in her work through the Tibetan gesture of “ninjye,” extending compassion and recognition to those affected by oppression.

In the new installation Araw na nakapitapita (That day most eagerly awaited), and through his ongoing research project, Museo ng Banahaw, Mark Salvatus explores the symbolism of a well known holy mountain in his hometown of Lucban in the Phillipines. Using interwoven texts from his grandfather’s poetic story of Golden Bull, myths of unidentified flying objects on the mountain and fragmentary video collages from his digital archive to illustrate family experiences, Salvatus shares the unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on his community.

Now based in Quezon City, Philippines, Salvatus and his wife Mayumi Hirano started an artistic and research project in 2016 called Load na Dito that uses spaces as a site for knowledge sharing, inquiry, and discussion. For Whose Stories? Load na Dito is organizing experimental workshops to explore the possibility of exchanging personal stories through online dialogue.

UJINO, who was born and continues to live in Tokyo, Japan, creates sound sculptures and video installations that examine the postwar modernization of Japan. In a new video work, HOME MOVIE, the artist relates his lockdown conditions during the pandemic to this history. Featuring a model toy train in his DIY sound sculpture, UJINO depicts the complex ideologies of individuals living in the postwar period following the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in the early 1930s. The work incorporates an interview with the artist’s 97-year-old mother who spent time in Manchuria during the invasion and uses historical materials such as advertising posters, postcards, maps, war films and photographs as clues to the narrative.

Naoko Fukumaru brings the tradition of kintsugi, the Japanese art of golden joinery, to the exhibition. A five hundred year old method of restoring damaged ceramics, kintsugi is employed to enhance beauty and value by celebrating “imperfection.” Through the philosophy and technique of kinstugi, Fukumaru not only restores broken pottery, but imbues it with the power of transformation and resilience.

The works of each artist in Whose Stories? raises questions about how larger narratives of historicized groups are constructed and told. It asks: What experiences are excluded? Whose voices are silenced and marginalized? How can those voices be heard? 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?

Whose Stories? explores how we perceive and position ourselves, as an individual in relation to world events, and how we take into account the experiences of others. The work of this diverse group of artists encourages a process of learning and un-learning; opening up new possibilities for co-existence and offering space to re-think our assumptions about the world.

A copy of the accompanying booklet is available here.

Diyan Achjadi
Reaching the City from The Further Adventures of Girl series, 2008
inkjet on paper, 1/3, 76.2 x 114.3 cm
Collection of the Kamloops Art Gallery, purchased with financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts

Curated by Makiko Hara
View images of the exhibition here.
October 2 to December 31, 2021
Jana Sasaki
Injustice and Identity features work by Jana Sasaki, an artist originally from Merritt, BC, and now based in Vancouver, BC. The exhibition includes early photo and text-based works from the Kamloops Art Gallery’s collection that address the history of Japanese internment and the complexities of her family’s mixed-race or Hapa identity.

Sasaki’s 1996 works Final Evacuation, Temporary Quarters and A Mother’s Thought – Murial Kitigawa delve into family memories of Japanese internment during World War II. Sasaki illuminates the history of racism and injustice in Canada by combining family photographs with historical documents that present notices of land seizures and announcements of the forced transport of Japanese and Canadians of Japanese descent to internment camps. Beginning in 1942, the Canadian government seized Japanese owned land and personal property and marked a 100 mile forbidden zone along the coast of British Columbia where people of Japanese ancestry were not allowed to enter. The “temporary quarters” referred to in Sasaki’s work reflects on the Hastings Park processing zone that moved families to internment camps in the Interior of BC. Much of the settlement of Japanese Canadians in the Interior is a result of this history.

The exhibition also includes recent photo and text-based works by Sasaki that focus on the history of the Japanese community on Powell Street in Vancouver, BC. These works incorporate memories of Japantown in Vancouver from before World War II, the 1960s and 80s. Many of the businesses in this neighbourhood disappeared through the process of internment and were never returned to the Japanese Canadian citizens who owned them.

Many Japanese Canadians of mixed Japanese ancestry have adopted the term Hapa
(or part Japanese) as their identity. Following internment, much of the Japanese community chose to move on and assimilate with “Canadian” society. For third and forth generation Japanese Canadians who find themselves researching their cultural heritage, questions are often met with more questions because this history is buried. Although memories and stories started to emerge publicly in the 1980s when calls for re-dress gained momentum, Sasaki’s work reveals how this process of “intentional forgetting” in Japanese Canadian families has adversely effected younger generations of Japanese Canadians. In Jana Sasaki’s 2010 works I’m told I take photos like a Japanese Tourist and Other Hapas can identify me as half of something with alarming frequency she points to the complexities of defining and claiming a Japanese identity today, given generational trauma and loss.

In conjunction with a concurrent Kamloops Museum & Archives (KMA) exhibition focused on Japanese Canadian history and present-day experiences, guest curated by Kamloops Art Gallery Assistant Curator, Craig Willms, Injustice and Identity illuminates personal perspectives on the Japanese Canadian experience. The work in The Cube exhibition connects to new work by Jana Sasaki on view at the KMA that addresses the Kamloops context, and these exhibitions are presented in conjunction with the coinciding Kamloops Art Gallery exhibition, Whose Stories?, curated by Makiko Hara, that shares work by six artists of Asian decent who similarly address cultural identity, trauma, and resilience.

With the recent rise of anti-Asian racism in Canada, particularly in BC, these exhibitions offer an opportunity to look back through history to see where this discrimination has come from and offer spaces to reflect on why it is emerging with such fervour again today. Together, these exhibitions ask how history can inform the present and how we can move towards greater cultural understanding.

Jana Sasaki
A Mother's Thought - Murial Kitigawa, 1996
photo etching on paper
18 x 15 cm
Edition 2/5
Collection of the Kamloops Art Gallery
Photo: Cory Hope

Curated by Craig Willms
View images of the exhibition here.

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