June 24 - July 30, 2022
British Columbia’s coastline, a reminder of the liminal and physical expanses that must be negotiated between past and present, features prominently in Vancouver artist Janet Wang’s upcoming exhibition Ports of Entry at Fort Gallery.
Ports of Entry explores what it means to be Chinese in Canada. Movement and migration write on to the landscape who has privilege, who must pay, who is held apart and separate. Wang, a second-generation settler of Chinese descent, undertook an extended trip through British Columbia in 2021, to research the history of Chinese settler migration from the late 1800’s. Her trip wound along the Gold Rush Trail and alongside the railway routes carved into the mountainsides by Chinese labourers. She recorded the juxtapositions of the celebrated histories and landmarks with the indelible marks left on the landscape by the labour of Chinese settlers.
Using the trip as a starting point, Wang then created drawings of significant landmarks using natural inks foraged from raw materials. In Ports of Entry, Wang examines the relationships between migration and labour using printed pattern inspired by images based on Gold Rush ghost folklore. The panoramic work is composed of vignettes loosely based on 18th -century Chinoiserie by Jean-Baptist Pillement, whose Orientalist fantasmas in turn reference Taoist diagrams of the body. Other works in the exhibition include a series of copperplate etchings montaged with drawings looking at more recent migrations, such as the 1999 Black Dragon ship that left 130 Chinese migrants stranded off the coast of British Columbia.