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Museum exhibit to focus on Chinese history in Kamloops through new lens

Looking northeast from the Chinese Cemetery in Kamloops.
August 19, 2016 - 2:47 PM

KAMLOOPS - The Kamloops Museum is focusing on the city’s Chinese history for an upcoming exhibit.

The museum hired Toronto photographer Morris Lum to put together an exhibit about Chinese history in Kamloops. Lum, who’s worked on a series of projects across the country documenting Chinatowns, has gone through the city archives to build the exhibition on Chinese life and heritage, museum curator Matt Macintosh says.

“It’s kind of a strange show,” he says. “To nail it with existing terminology is a bit tough.”

The Kamloops archives contains many photos from the city’s early days, including the Chinatown that used to exist on the west end of the city core. The earliest Chinese population came as miners and gold panners around 1860 and have been part of the city ever since. The Kamloops Chinese Cemetery, is over 150 years old and one of the oldest and largest in the country.

As Lum is an artist, Macintosh says the show will be looking at Chinese history and culture in Kamloops through a different lens than is typical for a museum exhibit. Lum has is also working with the Kamloops Chinese Cultural Association and Kamloops Chinese Freemasons to photograph the current culture, in particularly architecture.

Lum has taken a special type of camera out to collect images of current Chinese culture in Kamloops, to create huge 8’ by 10’ photographs of places like the Chinese Cemetery to go with the archives material.

“I think it’s interesting to find ways to include multiple voices in this space,” Macintosh says. “There’s Morris (Lum), there’s the museum, the cultural association and the Kamloops Freemasons. All of these people have an interest in producing and preserving history.”

And handing the reigns over to a Chinese-Canadian artist is a way to give a the community a say in how its history is presented. In this case Lum has gone through and documented the documentation of Kamloops’s Chinese residents.

“One of the ideas of the shows is the ethics of speaking on behalf the community when you’re not part of it,” Macintosh says. “It’s a great way to use artwork to speak to history and history to speak to artwork.”

The show will run from Sept. 9 to Jan. 21.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
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