The intersection of Bronson Avenue and Somerset Street is under construction until June, and organizers of the annual Chinatown Remixed arts festival are taking advantage of the inconvenience.
They’ve installed Texas artist Natali Leduc’s Thenwedieatron in the vacant intersection for the opening day of the festival. The piece plays with the concept of trust between strangers. One individual powers the artwork by pedalling a bicycle attached to a huge plastic tube; the other participant walks through the tube. If the pedaller stops, the piece deflates.
Chinatown Remixed co-founder Don Kwan, the owner of Shanghai Restaurant, says that both the city and the construction company working on the intersection support the idea of the festival breathing life into the unused space.
Now in its fifth year, the 2013 edition of Chinatown Remixed will feature more than 80 artists and performers. Each artist’s work will be on display at various locations throughout Chinatown, from restaurants to laundromats.
The artists will be at their assigned locations on the first day of the festival. Interested Ottawans can obtain a map listing artist stations at Shanghai Restaurant, whose parking lot will play host to a stage for musical performers. Rae Spoon performs opening day.
This year’s festival also features an exhibit of artists’ interpretations of Shanghai’s resident drag queen, China Doll.
Although the festival takes place in Chinatown, Kwan says the month-long event is a celebration of art and the neighbourhood rather than an exclusively Asian adventure.
“Chinatown is a multicultural village. There’s Vietnamese, Chinese, Romanian, Korean and East Indian residents. It’s a real gamut of everybody in this neighbourhood,” he says. “Another thing that’s great about it is everybody gets together and interacts, even though there’s all sorts of different barriers involved. There’s cultural barriers, there’s language barriers. [Chinatown Remixed]… builds bridges between different cultures in the city.”
Queer musician and photographer Alexander Stobbs’s work attempts to build bridges between audio and visual art. Stobbs, who will display at Zen Kitchen, says he recently became fascinated with how cellphone cameras have made photography accessible to the masses.
“In two swipes of a finger you’re able to edit it, get it out there and share it with people,” he says. “Depending on the platform you are using, you can get feedback in five seconds. It really has opened up many people to photography.”
Stobbs’s cellphone photos will be accompanied by QR codes that, when scanned by Chinatown Remixed participants, will link to music he composed to reflect each photo.
Kwan reminds art lovers to use the hashtag #chinatownremixed when tweeting about the festival and offers a challenge to adventurous attendees. “The exhibits are up all month. If you miss something, you can come back,” he says. “I don’t think I know anyone who has actually done the whole thing in one day.”