Langar Haul by Priya “Pree” Rehal
When your parents are below the poverty line working minimum wage to support you, you don’t get the opportunity to experience a parent that isn’t stressed about how they’re going to pay rent. They’re always thinking about how they will (or won’t) make ends meet.
“Langar Haul” is representative of the little things that are tied to my experiences of class trauma, community, markers of happiness or success, and conspicuous consumption. One of the most important things my parents gave me can’t be bought in a store, but can be experienced there – language and culture. As a child of immigrant settlers who also happens to be disabled, trans and informed by intersectional feminism, this project is the product of thinking about how we assign value to aspects of our identity and culture.
The birds-eye-view installation of these pieces is to mimic food blogger/Instagram photography aesthetics of food spreads waiting to be consumed. “Langar Haul” is not only the physical place, but a reference to my parents’ “long haul” from Punjab, the fragrant memory of the Langar Halls (Temple community kitchens) that taught me Punjabi, and the promise of curry-chol. The watercolour paintings I did in 2019, framed in found objects (metal dishes from my mom's kitchen) from my parents' homeland is a way of literally framing the present in my past, for an intentionality of my future as a third culture kid. This work is reflective of a personal journey forward, and looking back at my parents’ "long haul" as immigrants.
This project is part of a process of coming in to myself, rather than “coming out” in colonially defined ways. It's about navigating my past as a devout Sikh, resenting that part of my identity, and now reconciling with these feelings as I knit a healthy version of myself with each piece of myself I've healed. And the most comforting thing I need when I need to heal is food and community.
Pree was raised in Tiohtiá:ke/Montreal and went to school in Tkaronto/Toronto. They are a child of immigrant settlers from Punjab. They graduated from a joint Master's program at York and Ryerson Universities in 2016 and got involved in community arts shortly after.
As an artist educator, Pree's work centres the experiences of racialized gender diverse and queer individuals, and they strive to curate spaces only for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour). Their creative research interests include cosplaying, storytelling, crafting, social justice issues and how racialized trans and queer folx navigate daily life.
한/han, 2019 by Heidi Cho
한 or han is a word in the Korean dictionary which is said to have no English language equivalent. While there is no direct translation, han speaks to a contradictory emotional experience ranging from yearning, grief, resentment, anger, sorrow and guilt. While the experience of han is painfully experienced, it is often described as being "passively experienced" or "internalized" in the body. Korean historians have located the emergence and concept of han with the beginning of the Japanese colonial occupation of Korea. Han is understood as the way Koreans were able to process their experience of colonial violence through silent processing of grief and trauma.
My piece, 한/han, explores the contradictory experience of familial yearning, grief, shame and resentment through my navigations as a queer Korean working-class daughter in the diaspora. With little channels for open communication of grief and yearning for the family, complicated feelings of loss are relegated to our bodies. My piece hopes to exemplify the dull embodied experiences of rejection, loneliness and 한/han, that is deeply connected to queerness, family social codes and belonging. Rather than solely being guided by anger and individualism, a sense of familial protectiveness for the historical context that led our family here takes precedence.
Heidi Cho is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Toronto. Using a range of mediums such as ceramics, illustration and storytelling, Cho explores narratives around intergenerational trauma, mental health, queerness and diasporic Korean identity. Her illustration work has appeared in C Magazine, GUTS Magazine, Shameless Magazine and Cleo Magazine. Her visual work has been showcased in The Gardiner Museum, The Art Gallery of Ontario and Doris McCarthy Gallery UTSC. You can follow her work on instagram @ heidichomakesart