2023 . After Exclusion, Happy Fruit . G101 . Ottawa
After Exclusion, Happy Fruit by queer Chinese-Canadian brothers Ed Kwan (aka China Doll) and Don Kwan explores two centenary legacies. The first: the federal government of Canada’s racist enactment of the Chinese Immigration Act on July 1, 1923, which effectively banned persons of Chinese origin from entering Canada for 24 years before it was repealed. And the second: the Kwan family’s own centennial in Canada – a legacy that began with the arrival of their maternal grandfather Chow Kwai Fong in British Columbia.
The exhibition delves into the legacies in two parts. After Exclusion reflects on the both the immediate and lasting impacts of discriminatory government policies, including the Chinese Head Tax (1885-1923); the revocation of voting rights at provincial and federal levels from Chinese-Canadians and those of South-Asian origins (1872, 1907, and 1920 until 1951); and the Chinese Immigration Act (also known as the Chinese Exclusion Act, 1923-1947); as well as continuing effects of colonialism and racism. In contrast and defiance of these histories is Happy Fruit: one literal translation of gay ( 开心果 ) and a celebration the brothers’ queer Chinese identities and family history using language and play.
Through installation, sculpture and performance, Don and Ed challenge traditional cultural norms and reflect on the intersections of culture, identity, and history. Their remarkable works embody the power of art as expression, truth-telling, and activism. photo credit Selby Lisk