Asians have been unjustly blamed for the spread of COVID-19. With this work, stylized like a chinoiserie wallpaper pattern, Karen Tam points out this injustice. The scenes depict stories of racially motivated attacks on Asian individuals throughout history and up to the present, including acts of vandalism in Chinatowns during the coronavirus pandemic. Linking incidents from the past (for instance, Vancouver’s 1907 anti-Asian riots) to the present as well as highlighting the Chinatowns that have disappeared from Canada’s cities, the artist expresses anger and fear. The drawings in this work are based on Tam’s series of Ruinscape Drawings from 2020.
Karen Tam, Ruinscape (Wallpaper), 2020
Screen-printed satin wallpaper, repositionable printed wallpaper, Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Hugues Charbonneau, Montreal. Photo credit: Karen Tam.