kimura byol lemoine: 'SAEKDONG색동DIASPORA'
"…and Room in the Bag of Stars (…et de la place dans le sac aux étoiles)" — "SAEKDONG색동DIASPORA"
PHI Foundation; Tiohtià:ke/Montréal; Exhibition date from September 22, 2021 to January 9, 2022.
Free admission; Reservations required
On September 22, we had the opportunity to visit the new exhibition "SAEKDONG 색동 DIASPORA" by artist-activist kimura byol lemoine (ze/zer). Adopted from Japanese-Korean origin, kimura was one of the five artists selected for the bilingual exhibition "…and Room in the Bag of Stars — …et de la place dans le sac aux étoiles," which takes place at the PHI Foundation located in Tiohtià: ke/Montreal. Founded in 2007 by Phoebe Greenberg, the PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art is a non-profit organization dedicated to presenting impactful contemporary art experiences. International in scope, but fitting into the Montreal context, the PHI Foundation deeply believes in the role of art as a vector of exchange. Its programs combine reflection and pleasure, all in a space that is friendly, accessible, and inclusive for all.
In reaction to the health crisis that has forced people to distance, even isolate, themselves, the PHI Foundation has decided to set up a collaborative project that presents works produced as part of the inaugural PHI Montreal residency in the summer 2021 by PHI. Based on "The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction" (1986), a science fiction work by author Ursula K. Le Guin: “How can we, after a moment of prolonged isolation, imagine spaces, temporalities, conditions, or systems where we might all find ourselves, again?” The five winners of this edition of the residency, including kimura, have designed projects in response to this theme. These pieces were as diverse as they were engaged, and despite the eclecticism of the visual works on display, it was "SAEKDONG색동DIASPORA" that caught our attention the most.
The installation "SAEKDONG색동DIASPORA" is made of eight elements that bring together a multitude of objects in careful arrangement to reference their transnational experiences. The work explores themes of identity formation based on ethnicity, nationality, adoption, migration, and how all these might be expressed through objects and organic materials (kimura-lemoine 2021).
The first part includes two paper works: "The Seed from the East" (1956, USA), a book in which Bertha and Harry Holt recount the events that led to the adoption of 220,000 other South Korean “orphans” internationally, and sauvé·e des eaux, which is a flooded Japanese rice paper booklet, a souvenir from zer repeated trips between Japan and South Korea.
The second part exhibits four works, made from organic materials, that all refer to the number 100. While talking with kimura-lemoine, ze explained to us its symbolism: baek in Korean means “100,” but also the color “white.” "dying in japan (water)" and "counting days (wood)," respectively, contain 100 indigo and lotus seeds to represent the dying process in Japan and zer immigration to Canada. "unseeded land (earth)" and "uncovered stories (metal)" highlight Canadian Indigenous’ stolen land and Australian Aboriginal perspectives. Finally, "seedless ajumma (wind)" symbolizes the the cities the artist has lived (Busan, Watermael-Boitsfort, Bruxelles/Brussels, 서울/Séoul/Seoul, Tiohtià:ke/Montréal, Berlin, Kyoto, Tokyo), and "seeded ajumma (emptiness)" represents adoptees as packaged gingko leaves given to their future Western adoptive parents.
The third part of the exhibition features digital works, such as the video installation works "yikinging spaces (time)" et "sarang han tiohtià:ke (air)." These works evoke the artist’s diasporic journey through a meditative ballad based on elements of Yi-King and the emotional connections of nostalgia in the city of Tiohtià:ke. As Chinese adoptees ourselves, we were moved by kimura-lemoine’s authenticity and generosity during our visit. We were impressed with how kimura-lemoine’s artistic works have evolved throughout the years and continue to grasp profound changes in our contemporary society. We hope these unique works will resonate within you the way they did in us.
kimura byol lemoine – 키무라 별 르무안 is an artivist (artist-activist) and committed archivist of South Korean origin. Born in Pusan in 1968 and adopted by a Belgian family, kimura-lemoine now resides in Tiohtià:ke/Montreal. Described as a conceptual artist and feminist in multimedia, kimura-lemoine juggles sensitivity from one medium to another. Between videos (alone or in collaboration), writing, short films, photography, and calligraphy, kimura-lemoine’s hybrid identity is transposed through zer work. In this regard, zer themes revolve around immigration, adoption, the QUEER LGBTQ2S+ community, and social injustices. By using the body as an object that is both commercial and claimant, ze calls into question gender binary, ethnic and linguistic identities. kimura-lemoine is recognized for zer involvement and support not only within the QUEER LGBTQ2S+ community, but also with ethnic and social minorities. It is moreover thanks to zer meticulous work of archiving stories and photographs that kimura-lemoine gives voice to the most marginalized with the aim of challenging Eurocentric artistic and social codes. Zer involvement transcends geographic and artistic borders. kimura-lemoine is the co-founder and active member of several groups and associations, including Euro-Korean League (E-K.L., 1991, Belgium), Korean Overseas Adoptee (KOA, 1996, South Korea), Global Overseas Adoptees’ Link (GOA’L, 1998, South Korea), Asia/Afro-descendants/Aborigninal Queer Adoptees (AQA, 2007, Facebook group), Adoptees Cultural Archives (ACA, 2015, Canada), and CARÉ (2021, Asian Coalition for an Emancipatory Succession). kimura-lemoine is a model of perseverance and self-acceptance.
Adopted from Chinese origin, Marie Blouin/Gong Li is a Canadian anthropologist specializing in East Asian studies in Tiohtià: ke/Montreal. Through the analysis of various artistic mediums, her researches examine the trajectory of people in situations of transnational mobility in Korea and Japan. She is also interested in issues related to hybrid identities with the adopted diaspora. Her personal interests, as well as her academic background, enabled her to receive a mobility grant to perfect her knowledge at Inha University 인하 대학교 용현 캠퍼스, in South Korea. In addition, this fall she will complete her Master’s degree in Anthropology at the University of Montreal. Beyond her contribution to the advancement of knowledge about Asia in the social sciences, she is involved with several organizations, including the Asian Coalition for a Relève Émancipatrice (CARÉ).
Born in Nanchang, China in 1995, André-Anne Côté/陈安妮 is a Sino-Canadian adoptee living in Tiohtià:ke/Montreal. As an anthropologist, she is interested in autoethnography as a source of creative writing. Her Master’s thesis at Peking University focuses on the identity issues of the Chinese diaspora. Her texts have been published by Moebius, Le Devoir, the Huffington Post, NüVoices, and Inkstone. André-Anne lectures on anti-Asian racism and the rights of international adoptees. She is involved with L’Hybridé (an organization for adoptees in Quebec province), the Asian Coalition for a Relève Émancipatrice (CARÉ), and in the Directory of Asian Artists in Quebec at the invitation of the artist and curator Claudia Chan Tak.