“I Am Who I Am,” photography, from I Am Who I Am, 2001
“I Am Who I Am,” is a photograph installation made in year 2001. It uses 25 digital photos to tell the history of Chinese Canadian immigrants, of their hard work and their effort to build a social identity in a different cultural background. This installation aims to initiate dialogues between individuals and ethnic groups, between the past and the present. Meanwhile, Gu also tries to reveal the emotional history of generations of Chinese immigrants. From the time of gold rush to the construction of railways, Chinese immigrants have spread out across Canada. The photos expose the hardship Chinese immigrants endured, their persistence and beliefs. This installation taps into the connection between humanity and cultural backgrounds in the age of globalization and world migration. To Gu, it also serves as bring out self-awareness.
Canadian Chinese in history made contributions to the country, for example, building the railways and participating in the Second World War. Their contributions boost the economic development in Canada and uphold the Canadian values. In return, it also propelled the Canadian government to repeal the Chinese Immigration Act and to grant Chinese immigrants suffrage. Today, every Chinese immigrant or immigrant descendent, while adapting to a new social environment, is also reflecting upon the culture and self in between the clashes of two cultures. In the process, new cultural identity and space are created.