By Chun Hua Catherine Dong
Curated by Shaun Dacey, Richmond Art Gallery in partnership with Richmond Public Art
Utilizing digital techniques and photography, Chun Hua Catherine Dong’s work illustrates the rich symbolic value of Chinese textiles to explore issues of gender and culture. The phoenix and dragon are interconnected symbols in Chinese culture and are often used together to symbolize auspicious and blissful relations between husband and wife. In ancient Chinese history, the phoenix could be male or female. However, as the dragon became associated with Chinese emperors as an imperial symbol, the phoenix became exclusively associated with female identities. Within this diptych installed at Aberdeen Station, Dong envisions the phoenix and the dragon not as opposites but as mirrors of each other. Adding her own twist to a traditional medium, the artist uses blue to return masculinity to the phoenix and plum blossoms to offer femininity to the dragon. By placing these symbols within the rainbowed sea and mountain patterns, the artist suggests a contemporary perspective on Chinese tradition.
Each image is animated with augmented reality through a free app that can be downloaded on a mobile phone or tablet. Once the image and sound are activated, graphic elements begin to dance, paired with an ethereal score of traditional Chinese music.
Presented in partnership with Capture Photography Festival and the Canada Line Public Art Program – InTransitBC
Image credit: Chun Hua Catherine Dong, The Misfits, 2020. Courtesy of the Artist.