selected works, 2018-2020
Florence Yee is a Cantonese-struggling visual artist based in Tkaronto/Toronto and Tiohtià:ke/Montreal. Their interest in Cantonese-Canadian history has informed an art practice examining diasporic subjectivities through the lens of gender, racialization, queerness and language. Notable exhibitions include Sino(n)-Québécoise? at Centre Never Apart and Le Salon at Articule, as well as exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Ontario (2020), the Gardiner Museum (2019), Centre A (2019), A Space (2019), Art Mûr (2018), and the Karsh-Masson Gallery (2017). Along with Mattia Zylak, Yee co-founded The Institute of Institutional CritiqueTM in 2019. They are currently the Co-Director of Tea Base, a grassroots collective in Tkaronto’s Chinatown run by queer East and Southeast- Asians. They obtained a BFA from Concordia University and an MFA from OCAD U. They are represented by Studio Sixty-Six. to edit.
My practice started with the research of historical references to Cantonese-Canadian history and has now moved into a more intimate, more self-doubtful examination of diasporic family respectability from a queer lens. I use textile installation to question the stoicism of assimilationist imperatives, by holding space for personal & intergenerational failure and cultural loss. As an expansion upon (and critique of) liberal multiculturalism, it seeks to deromanticize Cantonese diasporic experiences and destabilize linear narratives of the self through humour and an autotheoretical approach. It problematizes labour as the longing for—and futility of—work within Cantonese diaspora, impacted by tradition, family, and queerness.
The banner made specifically for the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) was hung inside the gallery during their All Hours event. As a recognition of the AGO’s physical site in the neighbourhood of Chinatown (as well as on stolen land), I collaborated with Tea Base, a local arts collective, to knock on neighbours’ doors to invite them to our mahjong hall. The donated proceeds from the night were redistributed to Giditem checkpoint land defenders who were struggling against a pipeline expansion.
My most recent ongoing series, Please Help Yourself, is a collection of glazed ceramics meant to resemble tangerine peels. The offering of tangerines is reminiscent of the ways that Cantonese people often welcome guests in their home, and the simple food that is shared among friends on the side of the curb. As ceramic works, the inconspicuous leftovers of our shared gatherings become small monuments to those moments. As an expansion upon this project, I have transformed it into a collaborative endeavour. During COVID-19, I have mailed a small portion of clay to relatives and friends whom I cannot visit, for us to “share a tangerine,” by making one and sending it back to me to fire in a kiln. The sculptures act as commemorative objects of loss, while also grieving this time through creative acts.
Diane Wong, Elizabeth Davis, Tamara Harkness, Chaeyeon Park, Sarah Piché.