Works from Virginia Mak's Tai Nan Street series are currently on view at Gladstone House, 1214 Queen Street West, as part of the 2022 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, in an exhibition titled Ghost of Home.
When speaking of this series, Virginia Mak writes:
"As a child, whenever someone asked me, “Where is home?”, my immediate response was “33 Tai Nan Street”. Now, I am not so certain what my answer would be.
Having lived in Canada for over 20 years, I want to trace my past to make sense of the present.
I grew up in Hong Kong, a former British Colony; went to an English-speaking Catholic girls school run by nuns, but learned Buddhist ideas and traditional Chinese values at home.
Every time I moved to a new place, I sensed that home was somewhere else. When I started to photograph Hong Kong which was my home, I had the same foreign or outsider feeling—as I discovered that the small apartment building where I spent my childhood days was split into two buildings, and I was not allowed to photograph my old school.
This photographic series includes location shots and self-portraits. I use devices such as the double, doorways, stairs or passageways; contrasts between "Western" and Asian colour motifs, and text as counterpoint—to depict a past drawn from memory and imagination.
With this work, Tai Nan Street, I want to convey that sense of not belonging to one particular culture or place, of someone who thinks or dreams in two languages.
This body of work mixes the past with the present, the real with the dreamlike, fictional with remembered truths."
Ghost of Home runs through to August 2022.
VIEW VIRGINIA MAK'S COLLECTION