Art Dates & Location
July 1st – August 31st
Birch Hills Town Office & Library
126 McCallum Ave
Birch Hills, SK S0J 0G0
Karen Tam is a Montréal-based installation artist and has exhibited her work and participated in residencies in North America, Europe, and China, in venues such as The Drawing Center (NY), Victoria & Albert Museum, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, and Franfurter Kunstverein. She has received grants and fellowships from the Canada Council for the Arts, Conseil des arts du Québec, Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada, and Fonds pour la formation de chercheurs et l’aide à la recherche. Tam was a finalist for the City of Montréal’s Prix Louis-Comtois in 2017, a finalist for the 2016 Prix en art actuel from the Musée national des beaux-arts de Québec, and long-listed for the 2010 and 2016 Sobey Art Awards. Tam holds a MFA in Sculpture (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) and a PhD in Cultural Studies (Goldsmiths, University of London). She is represented by Galerie Hugues Charbonneau.
Similar to a folding screen, this 3-panel cutout metal structure looks at the Chinese restaurants and cafés that dotted the Saskatchewan landscape between the 1930s and 1950s. In thinking about the history of a place, I have been researching city directories and a ledger kept by a prominent Chinese businessman in Victoria’s Chinatown in the 1930s who listed his restaurant contacts in the Prairies, many in Saskatchewan. They may have settled in those towns permanently or may have moved on, but the only trace of their existence may be in ledgers such as this one, in listings or ads in the phone directories. This Blood and Tears sculpture is my small contribution to collecting and creating an archive of the Chinese Canadian restaurant community, and perhaps in doing so may be seen as a counter-archive and an act of resistance to what has been erased, left, out, and interpreted in public and dominant histories.