In 1986, Gu Xiong first visited Canada as an artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre for Arts. His works were very well received during the residence; hence he was invited for a second residency at the Banff Centre for Arts in 1989, and subsequently immigrated to Canada. Since then, Gu Xiong has been living and working in Canada for almost 30 years. His works evolve around immigrant identity, as well as the misunderstandings, tensions, conflicts, cultural differences and the linguistic barriers resulting from his Chinese cultural background and his daily life in a western society. Gu Xiong did not keep his experiences to himself; instead, he adopted a positive life attitude, and turned these experiences into artworks. That’s why Gu Xiong’s works are exemplary in portraying the cultural conflicts between the west and the east, and have received recognition from the Canadian art community. 

This exhibition at R Space presents video, photos, installation and existing work. The sharp and stimulating “pins” are adopted as the primary object in the exploration of the identity transitions that immigrants go through, which is difficult to expressed with language. In Gu Xiong’s own words: “’pins’ represent all sorts of embarrassment, reluctance, unfairness, or even helplessness immigrants could experience living in Canada. These things make my heart ache. They prick on my heart like pins, yet not to the extent that my heart bleeds; as time passes, they appear even less important. However, these pains keep reminding me that I could not draw back out of fear; on the contrary, I have to advance against hardship”. Also in a poem that he wrote for this exhibition he mentions:

“Pins and pain melt into one
My strength”

The complete version of his poem is available here. Also, you may watch the the video “Holding”, and “Tongue” prepared for this exhibition by visiting the video page.

Photos taken from the installation.

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Photographies displayed in this exhibition: