Karin Lee: Queer-sum 心
SUM gallery, Vancouver, BC
SUM GALLERY, VANCOUVER BC - May 12 - August 6, 2018
By Michael Turner
Now in its 11th year, Pride in Art’s Queer Arts Festival (QAF) has reached a level of saturation usually achieved by festivals specific to medium (e.g., film, writing) or genre (e.g., jazz, folk). But like those events where, for a week of the year, everyone becomes a foreign film buff or a jazz fanatic, there comes a time when a festival, like identity itself, requires a sustained presence. For the Queer Arts Festival, that presence is now the multidisciplinary SUM Gallery, which opened with three film/media works by Karin Lee.
Located on the fourth floor of the B.C. Artscape Sun Wah Building in Chinatown, the gallery takes its name from the dim sum restaurant for which its 700-square-foot space was originally designed. “Beyond that,” adds artistic director SD Holman, “SUM has a multi-layered meaning: the sum of its parts, the sum total: LGBTQ2Si+; Sum (心) means heart in the Cantonese dialect, which we use to pay tribute to the early immigrants from the Pearl River Delta in Canton who settled here 150 years ago; the word for queer in Chinese 同性戀 has Sum 心 in it.”
SUM’s programming employs a model developed by the QAF, where Holman takes recommendations from an advisory board and invites and works with guest curators. As for the inaugural exhibition, Holman and co-curator Paul Wong “wanted an artist with deep links to Vancouver’s Chinese and queer communities, a woman whose work was challenging and transgressive and queer – in other words, we wanted Karin Lee, a local artist who is fourth-generation Chinese-Canadian.”
Opening Reception May 12, 2 - 4 pm