Ports of Entry / Janet Wang
AKA/PAVED Billboard space at 424 20th Street West
Co-presented by AKA, Hamilton Artists Inc., and PAVED Arts
July through August 2020
Based on research of Chinese-Canadian settler histories, and visual storytelling, Wang has created a panoramic digital work, Ports of Entry. This panorama is comprised of numerous smaller vignettes, tied together with references to the promised land of Gold Mountain.
These narrative frames are based on waterways, rail, resources, art, and development. Each frame is a pastiche of chinoiserie by Jean-Baptiste Pillement (French, Lyons 1728–1808), whose Rococo artwork was filled with fantastical flora and creatures, with projections of Orientalist narratives popularized with European consumers.
Ports of Entry illustrates sociopolitical narratives around the Chinese diaspora and the hyphenated identity of Chinese-Canadians. The hyphen is a tenuous site that immigrants occupy, a line that shifts and moves with the tide, a marker that is both a limit and an opening.
This work looks at the speculative nature of migration; the patterns found in the histories of labour, movement and settling. These patterns are evidence of who has privilege, and who does not. Shorelines represent a limit that is constantly in flux, evolving and shifting in response to industry and development.
This installation is part of a national billboard exchange between Hamilton Artists Inc., AKA Artist-run and PAVED Arts in Saskatoon. The three-way collaboration also included billboard projects by artists Catherine Blackburn at Hamilton Artists Inc from June 2019 to May 2020 and Janet Wang at AKA/Paved in July through August 2020.
 Early migration from China to British Columbia was centred around the Gold Rush – the workers referred to Canadian, American and Australian colonies as “Gum San,” or Gold Mountain. Ministry of International Trade. “Gold Mountain.” Province of British Columbia, Province of British Columbia, 24 Nov. 2016,
Image: Ports of Entry (Detail), Janet Wang
Janet Wang is a visual artist working within a traditional painting practice, integrated with sculptural installation practices and digital media. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia and her Master of Arts in Studio Practice from the University of Leeds in England. Her work explores the construction of identity through the appropriation and disruption of social patterns and familiar gestures. The artist borrows heavily from the canons and traditions of history, both the artistic and the quotidian, in order to use the familiar as a meeting point with the viewer. Her work has been exhibited internationally, and is represented through the Art Rental and Sales, operated by the Vancouver Art Gallery. She has been awarded residencies from the Arts Council of England, ArtStarts, the Burnaby Arts Council, and received awards from the Vancouver Foundation and the BC Arts Council.
Hamilton Artist Inc.(The Inc.) is a not-for-profit, artist-run centre that empowers artists of all career levels to take risks with their contemporary visual arts practices and present their work in a critical context.
AKA Artist-run is a non-profit artist-run centre, run by a board of Saskatoon-based artists and cultural workers. Funded by the federal, provincial, and municipal governments, AKA pays fees to artists to support the research, creation, and exhibition of visual art work. A centre for emergent practices for artists at any stage of their careers, AKA provides space and support for critical, safe, and open exchange and is committed to creating space for experimentation, artist-led research, and self-determined direction. AKA aims to build connections between artists, local communities, and national and international audiences, posing questions without knowing the answers.