MEET ME AT THE DINNER TABLE
MEET ME AT THE DINNER TABLE SERIES
Meet Me at the Dinner Table is a curated series of community events and installations that invites artists, Joni Cheung, Excel Garay, and Stephanie Yee to explore their regionally-specific cuisines, personal understanding of family, history, diaspora, and connection to racialized settler identity. Each artist will have one solo event/installation and then come together in collaboration to create an immersive installation for Nocturne Art at Night Festival.
The information below will detail each event~
EXCEL GARAY ... OCTOBER 02-05
Interactive installation on view at the Halifax Central Public Library (5440 Spring Garden Rd) during their open hours.
Boxes are common materials associated with transnationalism, globalization of goods and services, as well as connection. Through this material, Garay seeks to convey unseen desires and longings within them. The tradition of Filipino balikbayan boxes is a common practice in diasporic communities. When translated, balikbayan means “to return to one’s home”. Members of the diaspora would often take large boxes and fill it to the brim with locally-sourced items to send to their loved ones. It would contain a wide range - from articles of clothing, chocolate, to cute kitschy trinkets, and more. These care packages would often get so large that it would occupy the entire family living space for months as it gets slowly filled. These packages become a stand-in for family care, an attempt for their presence to be felt by their loved ones. It may even act as a promise to return home knowing fully that may no longer be possible.
DTD?: DOWN TO DUMPLING? is a call and response project sustained through exchanging hand folded, edible goodies.
It started as a desire to enact their family’s Sunday morning (sometimes afternoon because she’s always been a night owl) ritual of going to 飲茶 yum cha and ordering mountains of 點心 dim sum, during a time when she was separated from family and friends #globalpandemic. Inspired by a memory of her folding 燒賣 siu mai and 雲吞 wonton with their dad, this lonely activity became a way for them to reach out to and care for loved ones and strangers from afar.
Isolation provided room to percolate on thoughts around home(making), diasporic experiences, and familial relations in material+intangible realms. Craving a place to let questions float, Cheung invites you to a communal evening of wrapping dumplings, where each participant will be given bite-sized treasures to take home as a parting gift. Within each baggie will be a scrap piece of paper—a prompt to contribute to an ongoing archive in any way that feels right to you.
Through this collective time, the artist hopes to continue nurturing acts of sharing space, stories, energy, and food—together.
STEPHANIE YEE ... NOVEMEBER 06
EGG ROLL SO-SHOLL!
Not all egg rolls are alike and no other egg roll is quite like the Nova Scotian Egg Roll. While the exterior may look similar to its vegetable filled cousin, the filling of the NSER consists of stir-fried meat, processed into a paste—and you either love them or hate them.
For those who love them, haven’t had them, or are looking to give them another try, join us for a taste testing* where we’ll be sampling rolls from various local restaurants. Testing for both the consistency and the nuance, tasters will be invited to discuss and connect how the evolution of an egg roll might also tell the story of migration, assimilation, food and making do.
*This event is welcome to all, unfortunately, the sampling does exclude non-meat eaters and the gluten intolerant.
GROUP INSTALLATION FOR NOCTURNE ART AT NIGHT FESTIVAL
Located @ 1880 Hollis Street from October 13-15, 2022
Excel Garay, Joni Cheung & Stephanie Yee
Three audio recorded voices are heard over a dinner table but any physical clues of who these individuals are remain absent.
The materiality of this sound installation reflects on the complicated detached memories of diasporic communities from their food systems due to effects of migration, ecological shifts in food production, or recipes lost in time. Each voice yearns for experiences they no longer have access to—and their desires speak volumes.
These memories are remnants and wishes that the same experiences would return.
The recordings that make up this work are shared by participants from diasporic communities during conversations with the artists. The intent is to touch upon mutual experiences of various communities as they bond over differences, similarities, stories, longings and hope. However, the artists wish to avoid essentializing such stories, which are diasporic tropes, by oscillating between sharing, refusal, and (in)visibility. This installation is an attempt to preserve what once was; to create a reflective space where we can be found.
"Is that what art is? To be touched thinking what we feel is ours when, in the end, it was someone else, in longing, who finds us?" - On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, Ocean Vuong
Stephanie Yee (she/her) is a second-generation Chinese Canadian multidisciplinary artist and cultural worker based in Kjipuktuk (Halifax). Her education includes a BFA in Intermedia from NSCAD University where she began her exploration into the connections between community and identity. With a practice rooted in storytelling, her work manifests as gatherings, performance, writing, installation, video, and playing with food. Often beginning with familiar imagery, processes, and materials, Yee playfully interjects as a means of exploring and questioning preconceived notions. She has participated as an artist, facilitator and curator in artist-run centers, festivals, residencies and galleries both locally and internationally.
Snack Witch aka Joni Cheung is a grateful, uninvited guest on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh, Stó:lō, Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh and Kanien’kehá:ka peoples. A wicked #magicalgirl ✨ eating art + making snacks, their interdisciplinary, sculptural practice investigates the relationship between objects↔place↔identity; navigates discourses of transnationalism, migration, and diasporas; and uses food and humour to draw people in with the familiar, to confront the uncomfortable histories embedded in the everyday.
Excel Garay (she/they) is a Filipina-Canadian diasporic settler occupying Mi'kma’ki territory in Kjipuktuk, Eskikewa’kik (Halifax, Nova Scotia). She is a curator, expanded media painter, and community worker. Garay is interested in contradictions that lead subjects, like them, into complicity and complacency.
Eyelevel gratefully acknowledges that this project is directly supported by ArtsNS