Su-Ying Lee

About

I am an independent curator living in Toronto, Canada and have also worked in institutions as Assistant Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA), Curator in Residence at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, and Assistant Curator at the Art Gallery of Mississauga. I received a Masters Degree in Curatorial Studies at the University of Toronto and in 2016/2017 was a fellow of the Toronto Arts Council/Banff Centre’s Cultural Leader’s Lab. My projects have taken place across Canada and in Hong Kong. Institutional contexts and other possible sites for information are a considerable concern of my practice. I employ gallery spaces for my work as well as self-determined platforms exterior to the milieu. I am interested in employing the role of curator as a co-conspirator, accomplice and active agent. Querying what the presentation of art can contribute to social change compels me.

 

Image Gallery

At SFAI

I hate people that feel entitled
Look at me crazy ’cause I ain’t invite you
-Kendrick Lamar, All the Stars (music from the movie Black Panther)

The movie Black Panther was released at the beginning of my stay at SFAI. Produced in Hollywood, it’s based on a Marvel comic. Not my usual fare, but caring fiercely about representation, I was drawn in. In Black Panther the technologically advanced African country of Wakanda is cloaked by a hologram that projects the image many Westerners expect, of a humble “third world” country.

Before arriving at SFAI I had been thinking with others and alone about cultural knowledge and when to tactically cloak or reveal it. These ideas reverberated throughout my time in-residence.

Visiting Pueblos during feast days and seeing the communities and celebratory dances was an experience for the moment and not to be taken away in photos, which were strictly forbidden. New Mexico attracts people who want access to Indigenous people to “help” them, make art using Indigenous bodies and spaces and take cultural knowledge.

Omar said “when a white woman asked Malcolm X what she could do to help, he said ‘do nothing’”.

BIPOC residents
Shared knowing
Cultural shorthand
Chastised while selecting mangos at Wholefoods
Demonstrative moral outrage about drinking bans on the beach in Georgia
No one can tell her that a thin female body isn’t the universal ideal
All that is mine is yours for the taking and you want it with a pleasant attitude

My time at SFAI was an unparalleled period of generation and production. I was energized and stimulated by situations, people, the landscape, my observations and motivated by the unaware demanding entitlement of whiteness.

I closely connected with several, was awed by humanity and am grateful for all that was learned, revealed and shared.

The time strengthened my understanding of cloaking strategies and artists who translate systems of cultural knowledge into artworks that manifest self-definition for themselves and their communities. In the next few years you will see exhibitions and projects I have curated on these themes.

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