APRIL ARTIST RESIDENCY
PAUL GIANG AND LUCY LU
For some, to be free is to be their true selves. But can one’s distinct identity constrain them from genuine freedom?
Curator Paul Giang and Theatre Lead Lucy Lu ask artists and audiences to reflect on how they navigate or negotiate their freedoms as it relates to their identities. This community art series has been generously supported and financed by Mile Zero Dance and the Edmonton Arts Council.
Free and Easy Wandering is a visual and performance art series exploring the relationship between freedom and identity. These two concepts are often linked because of the argument that freedom requires one to develop one’s own distinctive voice.
The series’ focus on Asian perspectives is to challenge the narrative that there is no concept of freedom or individual identity in Asian cultures. This belief is used to push people, communities, and societies to blindly submit to Westernization as the only option to achieve freedom. This stance is also echoed in some Asian countries to justify authoritarianism under the guise of “Asian values” that prioritize the collective over the individual.
This assumption, however, is overly broad. The title Free and Easy Wandering is one Chinese conception of freedom as described in Zhuangzi, a foundational text in Daoism. In one interpretation of the text, one becomes free through complete dependence (not to be confused with reliance) on the environment in a way that individual identity can transform to suit new contexts and navigate them. This is one of many non-Western contributions, historic or modern, to theories of freedom and identity.
Such contributions increasingly occur in spaces where different cultures, identities and ideas come into contact. These contact zones can develop online, through media, or in everyday interactions in Edmonton. The works, performances and workshops in this series will further investigate how Asian heritage contributes to local discussions.
Paul Giang is a Hoa-Canadian urban planner and artist based in Edmonton. Studying under a Chinese calligraphy master since 2017, calligraphy has become his main medium for relearning Cantonese. Paul’s artwork explores intersections among Sino- and global history, philosophy, religion, modernity, queerness and identity.
Lucy Lu is an art therapist and artist who has been practicing Playback for over ten years. She is the Artistic Director of Thirdspace Playback Theatre Edmonton—a diverse playback company (est. 2016) that engages with socio-cultural communities to promote community dialogue, social change and social justice.
This community art series has been generously supported by Mile Zero Dance and the Edmonton Arts Council.