Migration themed public art at Vancouver’s historic Punjabi Market

A new public art exhibition is exploring a different side of the Canadian 150+ story.

The South Asian Canadian Histories Association (SACHA) has curated a series of free, public art exhibits in Vancouver’s Punjabi Market on Main Street between 49th and 51st Avenues, as well as at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University.
“Trauma, Memory and the Story of Canada” runs from September 29 to December 15, and explores how the intersections of art, migration, and storytelling can facilitate coming to terms with difficult pasts.
“The show is part of a series of public art events that explore experiences of trauma as neglected and yet foundational parts of the story of Canada,” says curator Raghuvendra Rao. “The theme for Trauma, Memory and the Stories of Canada emerged out of a project on the theme of trauma based on my own experience of being in an earthquake and finding ways to ‘heal’ in the face of disability.”
The exhibition kicks off with a free public art walk on Saturday, September 30 at 12 p.m., beginning at All India Sweets and Restaurant located at 6560 Main Street in Vancouver.
The public art show features the work of Canadian artists Vikky Alexander, Sonny Assu, Jason Baerg, Sameer Farouq, and Hyung-Min Yoon; Indian artist Umesh Maddanahalli Shivanna; and rare archival photographs from private and public collections. Each artist engages with experiences of turbulent pasts that are a part – directly or indirectly – of the Canadian experience.
Artist Vikky Alexander’s work is comprised of a mural size photograph in the window of the in-transition Frontier Cloth House building at 6672 Main Street. She remembers coming to the Punjabi Market area to eat dosas and shop for beautiful raw silk, which inspired by ceiling-to-floor image of a backlit curtain made from brightly colored silk. Her images do not fill the enormous windows, to show that the shop is empty, but the light behind the curtain implies that there is still some life in the building. “I am hoping that it will be a poignant reminder of what was there,” Alexander notes, gesturing towards the loss and transition that marks all cities in change.
First Nation’s artist Sonny Assu’s installation at All India Sweets at 6560 Main Street engages with themes of borders and welcoming that re-imagine the shared histories of South Asians and Indigenous communities. Hyung-Min Yoon’s work deals with a broad notion of translation, and “Intended for you Alone,” her massive 45-foot piece is based on research into the Komagata Maru episode, in particular the experiences of women whose lives were shifted dramatically in the new land. Similarly, archival photographs will emerge throughout the run of the show to activate empty storefronts, construction sites, and spaces stuck in transition.
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Select Events:

* Art Exhibition Opening and Art Walk: 12-4 p.m. on Saturday, September 30 at the Punjabi Market and All India Sweets and Restaurant, 6560 Main Street, Vancouver. Join artists and members of the South Asian Canadian Histories Association for a public art display, performances, and art walk that explore the “Canada at 150+: Trauma, Memory and the Story of Canada” in Punjabi Market. Free event
* Artists’ Roundtable: 3 p.m. on Friday, September 29 at the UBC Asian Centre, 1871 West Mall. Join artists, curator Raghavendra Rao K.V., and members of the South Asian Canadian Histories Association to explore this artistic intervention in the story of Canada at 150+. Two works of art will be on display.