4. Digital Pavilion

Build Your Own Chinatown

View the promotional video for the “Build Your Own Chinatown” game here:

Try the Build Your Own Chinatown game for yourself by clicking here or heading over to https://www.chinatowngame.com/
You are invited to participate in the “Build Your Own Chinatown” board game (digital edition)! Build your own Chinatown out of hundreds of 3D-scanned facades of Toronto’s Chinatown(s) — selecting buildings, elements and facades that personally define Chinatown for you. Select carefully, each player can only choose a maximum of 10 buildings. Players must make the difficult choice of selecting the buildings they wish to keep and steward in their vision for the future of Chinatown.

Artist: Linda Zhang

Snack Witch

Soba’s Corner is an ongoing cooking show on Youtube’s food channel universe, unpacking distinct Chinese-Canadian dishes. Disguised as a typical how-to cooking show, a second conversation and narrative is hidden in the subtitles and in the link to the "recipe" in the Youtube video's description box.

Artist: Snack Witch

Bodies Unbound

The Chinatown Biennial will be hosting a performance screening by Bodies Unbound, in conversation with Red Canary Song and Butterfly. Stay tuned for more details!
Bodies Unbound connects Europe’s colonialist history of sexual regulation to the contemporary policing of the bodies of women of colour. Through poetry and performance created from archival material, we bring the language of colonialism – often written to be inaccessible to the people they controlled – into embodied reality, while also giving voice to those silenced by history, linguistic barriers, or fear of the state.

Laws regulating women’s labour or sexuality have curtailed freedom and maintained patterns of racism, fetishism, and surveillance from Europe’s colonial past to the present day. In the late 19th and early 20th century, many doctors assumed non-European women were prostitutes and thus vectors for venereal disease. Seen as threats to family integrity and society’s morality, such women were the “easiest target for sexual regulation.” In Germany, an 1871 law enabled police to arrest and subject to medical exam anyone suspected of selling sex. Cities required sex workers to register their place of residence, use an identification card, and undergo frequent medical exams. Such laws, ostensibly aimed at stopping disease, served to control the bodies of women of colour and the working class.

The medical and sexual marginalization of non-Europeans is amplified today in the fearful climate of the pandemic and manifests in the literal policing of bodies of women of colour. Until we reckon with this racist and sexist history, authorities will continue to enact harmful policies, such as raids on nail salons, brothels, and restaurants. These raids often harm women from East and Southeast Asia rather than addressing the economic precarity, itself a vestige of colonialism, that leads them to work in exploitative conditions.

Bodies Unbound draws from public archives (e.g. legislation, medical records, news articles) on prostitution in Europe and the colonies. Then, taking methods from docupoetry, we use these primary source materials to create lyrical works that illuminate and transcend trauma. Finally, we interpret the new texts through performance and present the final work as a poetry film.

Sculpture of the Dead, the docupoetry film resulting from the Bodies Unbound research project, was produced with support from Zarahlena (creative direction, videography), Molly Baber (editing), and Alexander Weber (sound design).

Then Is Now

Watch the video playlist here:

“Then Is Now” is a Concept Album/Playlist of 16 short videos (1-3 minutes each) that reflect and reimagine the troubles and triumphs of Chinese youth growing up in and around Toronto’s Chinatown from 1947(The end of the Exclusion Act) to 1967 (Canada’s Centennial). Using oral histories from our “Aunties” (writer Arlene Chan, artist Bernice Hune, academic Shirley Hune and musician/community activist Janet Lumb), archived family photos, original writing, performance and new-to-us digital software, we have attempted to reclaim and recontextualize the actions of Chinese women and artists historically in Canada. Moving fluidly from archival material into cheeky contemporary interpretations of the same, each video is stand-alone, while the whole playlist/album illuminates a continuum of Chinese-Canadian artists, law changers, trouble makers, community builders and dreamers, with the aim of giving young people, particularly racialized youth, a way of understanding themselves through the personal stories of marginalized communities that are often left out of history.

Artists: Gu-Po Productions (Julia Hune-Brown and Keira Loughran)