In this installation, Karen Tam recreates the interiors of photography studios that produced portraits of Chinese individuals in Canada. In the late nineteenth century, Chinese photographers in British Columbia included C.D. Hoy (1883–1973), C.B. Wand, C.S. Wing (b. around 1890), and Yucho Chow (1876–1949). Their pictures often incorporated furnishings from their studios, including drapery, potted plants, fur rugs, and a wooden chair. Today there are few records of the many Chinese Canadians who lived in the country in the early 1900s. Tam’s installation is an act of making their lives visible. It reminds us that individuals ranging from recent immigrants to community leaders had their pictures taken by Chinese Canadian photographers. The re-created studio space of C.S. Wing embodies their experiences and history, bringing us closer to the past.
Karen Tam, C.S. Wing Studio, 2020
Mixed media, 304.8 x 294.7 x 167.6 cm, Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Hugues Charbonneau, Montreal. Installation view of C.S. Wing Studio at the Koffler Centre of the Arts, Toronto, 2020. Photo credit: Karen Tam.