A Floating Life


Growing up as a second generation Canadian is a complex experience of feeling as if you
don’t belong, not belonging and trying to find yourself in the between. This body of work
entitled, “A Floating Life” references the work of Chinese writer Shen Fu, whose
autobiography “Six Record Of A Floating Life” describes the complexities of his own life as
well as those of his wife, Ch'en Yun, a woman ahead of her time who admirably balances her
love of learning with her duties and obligations as a traditional Chinese wife.

“A Floating Life” is a series of re-creations based on my own adolescence growing up in a
traditional Chinese home where I was expected to behave in the only way a child of an
immigrant should behave - with excellence. Piano lessons were a must. Anything under 100%
on a test was not good enough. Dinner was fraught with the tension of a million words
unsaid. The only safe haven was the inner sanctum of your own room. Using
Chinese-Canadian non actors as my cast, these images explore both external expectations
and the internal process of discovery of one’s identity within the family milieu, from my
experience as well as theirs, situated between tradition and modernity, and exposing the
tension of daily life suspended in adolescence - the most explosive and emotional time of
growth and idealism. Memory, culture and the diaspora create an entirely new reality of
layered experience, where the struggle to find one’s identity is constantly colliding with what
is expected.