The intimacy of The Living Room at Center A

A comfortable Ikea armchair against a white wall with framed art prints.  To the right a storage room with plants and bottles sake.  To the left, a floor lamp lit up.
Release your guard in this familiar space. PHOTO: Gudrun Wai-Gunnarsson / The Peak

By: Kelly Chia, staff writer

When the art world so often feels unapproachable, Henry Heng Lu and Hau Yu Wong imagined an exhibition where visitors can feel at home. By making the space more intimate, Lu and Wong hope to “challenge the often inaccessible, highly curatorial nature of a contemporary art gallery. “

Located in Center A and Sun Wah Center, The living room appears next to Revisiting Asianadian. This is where I amquestions of That Asian magazine are available for patrons to read. They are also available at Center A’s library. Bother exhibitions are free to attend.

My friend and I decided to check it out Asian display first. From 1979-1985, this Toronto magazine highlighted Asian Canadian – primarily East and Southeast – cultural peperspectives. It offered a “counterplay to the predominant stereotypical representations of them in the mainstream media. “For example, Dawn Kiyoye The tenmemorized about the horrific experience of hearing older white men discuss, with academic rhetoric, the submissiveness of Asian women. Her experiences, as consider how media stereotypes affect public perceptions of Asian women, resonated deeply.

Another exciting article was written by Dr. Bach-Tuyet Dang, where he talked about being a Vietnamese doctor. Dang wrote, “If they tell me about a ghost in their gut, I accept this belief.” These were some of his patients’ cultural beliefs that Dang wrote respectfully about. This was the first time I saw a doctor discuss these beliefs about health in Western media without judgment andieinstead of empathy.

Asian felt that it gave a tangible voice to the Asian Canadian community, giving writers a space to express their thoughts without reservation.

Next, we went to The living room. Movies are set up for viewing on a television in a dimly lit but comfortable room consisting of two sofas and cushions on a floor mat that is pushed in front of the television. The flower pattern on one of the sofas and mooncake container in the room made me smile because these had been in mine families home.

Lu and Wong designed the room so that visitors would like to sit down. The films selected for the exhibition’s first program were selected to represent “reconnection, lineage, and exile.” These themes were shown using a variety of styles, from a silent film on East Asian immigration history (The yellow Pages by Ho Tam) for a short film about a gay Lebanese couple (WC 2010 by Roy Dib).

My friend and I sat down in soft sofa cushions, talked through Nang by Nang by Richard Fung. This was a movie that centered on Nang, Fung’s first cousin. We were fascinated by her courage and resilience. We watched as she discussed her life experiences, like leaving the first of five husbands when he was unfaithful, and going to university in the 40s.

Because the rest of the gallery was empty, my friend and I talked lightly about our busy lives. It felt appropriate for the makeshift living room and it possibility the organizers looked to connect “after almost two years of isolation.” I had never before considered a gallery as a common room, but this is what The living room aims to change. Alongside with snapshots of countercultural Asian Canadian media with Asianit felt as if the space was made with the love of community and connection in mind.

Both exhibitions run until May 2022. Lu and Wong hope so function movie nights, COVID-safe food events, and reading groups at Center A. They also invite filmmakers and artists to submit their films to be considered for screenings. Collectives and other community members are also encouraged to submit their works to be considered for viewing. Interested parties can email [email protected] to discuss submission details.

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