BRENDA JOY LEM, Continuous and Unbroken
Esplanade, Medicine Hat
April 5 – May 25, 2008
By Amber Bowerman
Like a twice-exposed photograph, Toronto artist Brenda Joy Lem’s silkscreen prints often feature many distinct images blended together in a haunting collage. Lem deftly overlays eastern villages with western landscapes, and historical clippings with contemporary images in an attempt to understand her identity as a third-generation Chinese-Canadian. “Imposing an Asian landscape onto an image of Moose Jaw is kind of like saying, ‘we were here,’” she says. The granddaughter of Yip Foo, one of the first Chinese immigrants in Moose Jaw, Lem bears witness to the world her grandparents and parents lived in. “I feel as though, on a spiritual dimension…I can be present for my mother’s childhood, carrying water in the fields,” Lem told Min Sook Lee, a Toronto filmmaker. The prints are accompanied by a video installation addressing the sexualization and stereotypes of Asian women. Viewers enter a small temple to watch images of Lem’s female ancestors, but must first remove their shoes and bow to fit through the narrow door. “It creates a respect and awareness,” says Lem. The exhibition features pieces from the Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery collection and is curated by MJMAG’s Heather Smith. The Organization of Saskatchewan Art Councils will next tour the exhibition across Saskatchewan from June 2008 through 2010.
Represented by: Open Studio, Toronto