sik teng mm sik gong (pardon my chinese)
Artist Statement: sik teng mm sik gong (pardon my chinese) consists of a series of large format 4x5 photographs that are part of an investigation into Hong Kong-Canadian diasporic identity and the ways that it manifests through familial relationships, domestic spaces and objects. This work takes up aspects of the everyday to visualize the things “in between” that make up this identity: between care and neglect, sterility and warmth, belonging and alienation. The title of the work refers to a common Cantonese phrase about second generation immigrants who can understand parts of the language but don’t know how to speak it.
Much of my practice has been informed by the experience of being brought up in an Asian-Canadian context, but not exactly belonging to either. Being the child of immigrants from Hong Kong specifically further complicates this identity too, as Hong Kong today exists in a space that is neither fully British or Chinese. My interest in exploring this hyphenated, in-between space emerged as a result of this upbringing. Although this liminality creates a fragmented sense of identity, it also allows for possibilities to emerge that aren’t as heavily burdened by specific histories and traditions. Even though this work is exploring a narrative that is common for many people, it is also a way of looking at my own identity, the self and how it is formed as a result of these intersections of family, immigration, diaspora. Through a combination of portraits and still lifes, these photographs attempt to portray the complexities and nuances of this Asian-Canadian identity, while being conscious of overt stereotypical signifiers.