Arcade Project Curatorial is pleased to present Cleavage, an exhibition of AR (Augmented Reality) photography, video, VR (Virtual Reality) and sculpture by Montreal-based artist Chun Hua Catherine Dong. Cleavage is the inaugural exhibition for our physical gallery space and Dong’s first solo show in New York.
Cleavage refers to mitosis, a fundamental process for life. During mitosis, a cell duplicates all of its contents, including its chromosomes, and splits to form two identical daughter cells. Dong’s work explores the immigrant journey of identity: a splitting of the self into parts. The immigrant separates from their country of birth, entering their adopted country as the “other”. The immigrant becomes a person of two lands, not fully fitting in with either. When the immigrant returns to the land of their birth, they are not at home – they are visitors, tourists. The “home” that they hold as a memory is idealized in their mind. It doesn’t exist in the physical realm.
Skin Deep (2014-2020) explores the relationship between the concepts of shame and face in Chinese culture. Shame, or losing face, functions as a form of social control that prevents individuals—particularly women—from acting in ways that might disrupt the status quo. The series explores the concept of losing face in a series of photographic self-portraits, combined with an AR component, in which they conceal their face in traditional Chinese brocade silk fabrics that also comprise the background, signifying the loss of individual identity and absorption into a cultural identity.
Mulan (2022), a VR installation, inspired by the aesthetics of Beijing opera, splits the titular legendary heroine into two dueling warriors – shifting from singular to plural and back again. Mulan’s intense palette and undersea setting are references to Nudibranchs, colorful hermaphroditic mollusks that cannot self-fertilize and, despite having all the necessary equipment, require another to complete the reproductive cycle.
When I Was Born, My Father Said I Was Just Another Mouth to Feed, performance video (2010) and 3-D printed sculptures (2021), suggest that this cleavage of identity isn’t always complete: a ghost of the parents and their actions remains imprinted on the child. The bear’s four ears suggest a part of the child that has not completely separated. The bear’s pose is reminiscent of the prostration of both prayer and corporal punishment — a superimposed gesture of both hope and shame.
About Chun Hua Catherine Dong
Chun Hua Catherine Dong is a Chinese-born, Montreal-based artist working with performance, photography, video, AR and VR. Dong received a BFA from Emily Carr University Art & Design and MFA from Concordia University in Canada. Dong has exhibited their works and performed in multiple international venues and festivals, such as the Quebec City Biennial, MOMENTA | Biennale de l’image, Kaunas Biennial, The Musée daft Contemporain du Val-de-Marne in France, The Aine Art Museum in Tornio, Bury Art Museum in Manchester, Museo de la Cancillería in Mexico City, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, He Xiangning Art Museum in Shenzhen, Rapid Pulse International Performance Art Festival in Chicago, 7a*11d International Festival of Performance Art in Toronto, and so on. Among many other grants and awards, Dong was the recipient of the Franklin Furnace Award for performance art in New York in 2014 and listed in the “10 Artists Who Are Reinventing History” by Canadian Art in 2017. Dong was also a finalist for Contemporary Art Award at Le Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec 2020. In 2021, Dong received Cultural Diversity in Visual Arts Award from the Conseil des arts de Montréal.
About Arcade Project Curatorial
Founded by M. Charlene Stevens in 2016, Arcade Project began as a digital publication focused on contemporary fine art and its cultural context. With its expansion into a nomadic curatorial platform in 2020 and a physical gallery space in 2022, Arcade Project Curatorial continues this mission to foster the careers of emerging and established creatives, launching thought-provoking exhibitions meant to excite and inspire.