Clare Yow, Through the thick and thin of it

work statement

This submitted work is part of Clare’s ongoing project marking the centenary of the 1923 Chinese Immigration Act, in which she draws on Exclusion Era (1923-47) materials held in public archives and ties them to present day concerns. Here, Clare uses a series of historical and self-captured photographs of Vancouver’s Chinatown community, rallying together in the surrounding vicinity of the MPCAS.

The photographs are mounted onto wooden cradle boards and the figures and their protest banners have been isolated with thick, white acrylic paint. This work commemorates how Chinatowns across Turtle Island have historically and presently been such sites of resistance—to live and thrive against colonial white supremacist violence including greed, inequity, and gentrification. At the same time, it has also been a fight for the people, particularly the working poor and our elders, and for peace.

From a rally in the 1930s highlighting the death of Chinese workers due to severe negligence and another against fascism, war and invasion, to the 2017 and 2023 resistance movements opposing the 105 Keefer development, Clare’s video stitches together images that honour the fighting spirit of Chinatown’s residents and its allies — united, powerful, daring, and hopeful.

artist bio

Clare Yow is a Chinese-Canadian visual artist working primarily in photography with documentary as its basis. Her practice is foregrounded on the politics of identity and being and their intersections with the everyday. Through various forms of making, Clare is concerned with rootedness, labour, and the movements towards collective justice and liberation.