11:00 am – 7:00 pm | Sep 3rd | Granville 700
11:00 am – 7:00 pm | Sep 4th | Granville 700
11:00 am – 6:00 pm | Sep 5th | Granville 700
Climbing a tall mountain is no easy feat. To climb up only a part of the way up the mountain is already challenging, but taking this first step is likely the most approachable and common choice for most people. Of course, the view from part way up would still be undeniably beautiful. ACSEA’s ambition, however, is to reach the summit—the most difficult place to reach on the mountain, usually out of sight, hidden by the clouds. Yet when we reach the summit, the view outwards carries a slightly different experience—there is a transformative sense of triumph and awe as we look out at Mother Earth.
To Reconnect, Rediscover, and Reinvent are three themes in ACSEA’s work, each building on each other. We start with Reconnect, then look to Rediscover, and ultimately, aspire to Reinvent. The mountain range backdrop shown in this exhibit represents how ACSEA’s work follows these themes that build on each other, almost like climbing higher and higher up on the mountain. Rather fittingly, a mountain range also forms the backdrop for the city of Vancouver, where ACSEA originates from. Here, the North Shore Mountains have watched over and guided us as we ultimately seek to reach the summit through our events with an ambition to share stories that transform how people think about our society, our cultures, and our communities.
For ACSEA and many other cultural organizations, the first step taken was to go back to our roots. Asian Canadians come from diverse, rich cultures and backgrounds, and the openness of Canada to multiculturalism gives an opportunity to Reconnect with our heritage and share it with those around us. At their foundations, two of our signature events, TAIWANfest and LunarFest, are opportunities to share Taiwanese culture and the Lunar New Year holiday respectively with the local community. By reconnecting with our roots through arts, food, music, and more, we can offer Canada an opportunity to learn about and appreciate the Taiwanese Canadian community and the communities of all those who celebrate the Lunar New Year.
Clever, competitive, and a bit cheeky, the Monkey is one of the 12 animals of the zodiac, one of the most beloved lunar calendar customs popular across Asia and a central part of the Lunar New Year—an event ubiquitous in so many cultures. Based on the lunar calendar, the Lunar New Year is celebrated across the continent, from Mongolia and Korea to Taiwan and Vietnam. With LunarFest, the Lunar New Year holiday is another opportunity to embrace and celebrate cultures and traditions, while highlighting things that so many different cultures and communities in Canada share. This lantern monkey is one of the items presented in 2016, the Year of the Monkey, as part of our Monkey King and His Friends program. As monkeys are the animals most closely related to humans, our 2016 event theme looked to reflect on the qualities of the monkey and push ourselves to reflect and find a new self in the new year. The lanterns themselves are an homage to the thousands of years of history that lie behind lanterns in many Asian cultures, and these endearing, collectible lanterns share a part of the Lunar New Year tradition and the culture behind it with everyone around us in an approachable manner, making for a wonderful community event.
Sep 3, 8-9:30 pm
šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énk Square
North of the Vancouver Art Gallery
Kanatal means “island” in the language of the Amis, one of Taiwan’s Indigenous peoples—it is also coincidentally pronounced similarly to “Canada” in English. Kanatal is a band from Taiwan formed by its four Indigenous members that aims to simultaneously connect with the world and reconnect with their own Indigenous roots. The four members originate from different Indigenous groups in Taiwan—the Amis, Paiwan, Atayal, and Bunun—and symbolize the diversity of the island nation. Despite their Indigenous backgrounds, the four members grew up in the city, pushing them to reconnect with their culture and heritage by returning to Indigenous communities where they could learn traditions and customs of music and to write music in their Indigenous languages. Music serves as a bridge for Kanatal, for connecting to their identity, having dialogues with Indigenous peoples in Canada, and to share Taiwan’s Indigenous cultures with the world.
When we see other people happily learning about our culture, it is hard to not be happy. Seeing the crowds of people tasting new foods or learning about unique cultural customs at TAIWANfest or LunarFest is no different for ACSEA. But what happens when the crowds go home? Why should they remember and care about Taiwan or its culture? Both as Canadians in a diverse society and as human beings, what connects our culture to others? Perhaps if we looked back at Taiwan through the lens and stories of others—from that of Canada and the countless communities of people who live here—could we not only Reconnect with our roots but also Rediscover stories about Taiwan or the world we had forgotten or never known about? We have taken the first step on the trek to the summit; if we climb a bit higher up the mountain, could we get a better, clearer view of the stories of the world below, humanity, and its cultures?
Humans celebrate with music, dance, and food. They cherish freedom, wellbeing, and family. They carry pain, anger, and guilt from history. Across ethnicities, cultures, and national borders, humans share a lot, so if we look for new angles, new stories, and new dialogues, we might just Rediscover not only Taiwan, but also our multicultural community and all the cultures within it. In the past few years, ACSEA’s signature events, including TAIWANfest and LunarFest, have looked to bring dialogue and connection into the conversation through the shared values, emotions, and pasts of different communities. Simply sharing Taiwanese culture or Lunar New Year traditions was not enough. In particular, for TAIWANfest, the Dialogue with Asia series looks to find stories from Taiwan and other countries in Asia that tell us things about the world and push us to reflect and gain new visions of our own lives and communities.
Family is precious to all peoples. In recent memory, family has been an ever-more important haven to all during the pandemic. The concept “family” was at the heart of our Family Ties lanterns from our 2021 Coastal Lunar Lanterns exhibit. As the Lunar New Year is traditionally a time when families—even those who live far apart—come together, family is a valuable theme in the new year period. The exhibit highlights lanterns designed by two families, one from the Indigenous Paiwan people of Taiwan, one from the Musqueam people whose traditional, unceded territory is what is now Vancouver. Ideas of family surround the imagery in the lanterns. For example, the powerful orcas—important in Coast Salish iconography—featured on artists Thomas and Kelly Cannell’s lanterns reflect how orcas travel closely together in family pods in which they care and protect for one another. Similar notions are found in Pairang Pavavaljung’s lantern inspired by the oral stories of the Paiwan. To the Paiwan, we are all children of the Earth and the Sun—thus, a family that must help and share with each other. The lantern is based on the story of two brothers who turned into mountains to protect each other. When we discover the stories behind the lanterns, we can see parallels between different communities’ perspectives on family. Family is universally valued, but Family Ties pushed us to reflect on our own perspectives and experiences of things like family, and perhaps better understand what family means to us and our culture.
Stories of Indonesian Community in Tangkang
Sep 3 – 5, 11 am – 7 pm
Sep 5, 11 am – 6 pm
Granville 600 Block
In the Taiwanese port town of Tangkang (Donggang), Indonesian migrant fishers are not only the backbone of the local fishing industry, but an important participant in local cultural customs. To many of these Indonesian migrant workers, Taiwan has become a second home. In Tangkang, you can hear the sounds of Indonesian music and find a mosque directly opposite a Taiwanese folk temple. The word “Silaturahmi” originates from Arabic, and means to connect and strengthen relationships with those around you. Silaturahmi is an Islamic concept, but its meaning has transcended religious and cultural boundaries and has taken an important place in the daily lives of Indonesians.
After years researching Indonesian culture and the particular stories and issues of migrant workers and new immigrants in Taiwan, Ting-Kuan Wu and Yu-Chen Lan have curated a special exhibit surrounding the concept of Silaturahmi, presenting the stories of the Indonesian community in Tangkang to the TAIWANfest audiences in Canada. As part of our Dialogue with Indonesia this year, Silaturahmi helps us to rediscover stories and learn new things about Taiwan’s industries and society, and the livelihoods of the communities surrounding them. With their approach towards community solidarity, cooperation, and engagement, Silaturahmi and the Indonesian community in Tangkang can offer us new visions for diversity in our communities in Canada.
Our Dialogues with Asia have brought us closer to our friends in other communities. Since our start with Hong Kong in 2016, to Indonesia and Malaysia in 2022, we have been able to look back at themes and stories from Taiwan through perspectives from Asia or Canada in order to see Taiwan and the world in new ways. In the process, we have been able to include, connect, and communicate with so many communities, finding common ground through our stories. But when we Reconnect with our roots and Rediscover perspectives on Taiwan and the world through dialogues, what is our lasting impact on the world? Can we help the world see the value of dialogues, transform presupposed ideas about our society and its communities, and to make discourse the norm for more interactions? Could we Reinvent the way we see, think about, and talk about diversity, culture, and humanity? Can we have such a transformative experience, just like reaching the top of the summit and seeing everything down below?
Humans do not know where the boundaries of possibility are, but they can break the status quo in search of it. Our diverse world is filled with so many different stories and cultures to connect with and subsequently to learn from, so do not hold back: we look to take the hardest step: to find how these stories are relevant to the world and Reinvent how our society thinks about diversity, culture, and humanity. ACSEA is searching for opportunities to transform the discourse with our events. Using arts and culture to find ways to transform our society in Canada has been at the centre of our work, especially through TAIWANfest or LunarFest. Next, through our new events, Reflect Festival and Jade Music Fest, we are looking to change how we think about humanity and music respectively. Doing so is ambitious and challenging—just like how the summit is the hardest place to reach on the mountain—but we hope to push and encourage people to see the world in a new way.
Since 2016, TAIWANfest has pursued our Dialogues with Asia series, beginning with Hong Kong, following with Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, and South Korea, and finally, this year’s dialogue with Indonesia and Malaysia. When we take on these dialogues, we are no longer only looking to promote Taiwanese arts and culture. Every year, our dialogues centre around a theme relating to Taiwan, Canada, and Asia, with performances, exhibits, and more than help to shape a cross-cultural dialogue reflective of Canadian multiculturalism. Different communities are handed the opportunity to have their voice heard and express and share their cultures with the broader Canadian society. This offers Canadians an opportunity to learn about its communities, break down stereotypes, and better understand those around us. TAIWANfest thus looks to transform the established model of arts or cultural events by not only discovering new sides of Taiwan through dialogue, but contributing to transforming the relationships between Canadian society and its diverse communities.
Aug 5 – Nov 6, 2022
Museum of Vancouver
The COVID pandemic was an opportunity for artists to look towards nature. Amid isolation, polarization, and frustration, nature offered two artists a look at a world with its own conscious existence and free from the human world’s issues. The works of Yu-Wen Wang, from Taiwan, and Taiwanese Canadian artist Edward Juan are highlighted at In Reflection at the Shore, an exhibit at the Museum of Vancouver jointly presented by ACSEA as a part of Reflect Festival. Wang’s works emphasize nature at the centre of a story, rather than the human artist, while Juan makes use of sustainable plant mediums and traditional knowledge for his works that connect culture. In Reflection Across the Shore represents how we can look at nature as an equal with its own way of life and consciousness, instead of as something merely existing for humans to exploit. Nature and the environment perhaps can help us to find a glimpse of what human nature really is—moving away from the stresses of the modern world to redefine what it means to be human.