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A journal for storytelling, arguments, and discovery through tangential conversations.
The Great Refusal: in conversation with Michelle Nguyen
Tuesday, June 1, 2021 | Yani Kong
Michelle Nguyen’s artwork will enworld you. Monstrous vegetation joins with naked, dripping, feminine bodies who live ferociously without ever doing too much. Figures pour from one orifice into another and commune with anthropomorphic meat. Colours push out towards the viewer. In the world of the painting, bodies, surfaces, paints, and textures party, seeming to want the viewer to become involved. Her work is luxurious, a little foreboding, and streaked with absurdity. Across her many mediums, drawing, print, clay, and largely in paint, Nguyen shows how the abject is cased in potential, still radiating beauty. Nguyen and I have known each other since 2016, and in that time, I’ve grown a deep admiration for both her and her work. Much like her body of work, Michelle is bold, darkly funny, and deeply tender. She has a lovely friendship with my young daughter. The two of them mixing potions of dirt, fallen flowers, and dead bugs, left to cook in a hot sunbeam. 
Three Doors to the Past, Present, and Future: in conversation with Cindy Mochizuki
Wednesday, July 29, 2020 | Yani Kong
I met Cindy Mochizuki when I attended the artist talk for her residency at the Burrard Arts Foundation, culminating in her most recent installation work, The Sakaki Tree, a Jewel, and the Mirror (2020). The work brings out her gifts as a fortune teller and builds on Japanese myth, light, shadow, ceramic art, and puppetry. Not to play too much into the destiny of it all—but when I entered the gallery, Cindy’s eyes met mine in a warm and familiar way. I don’t want to say that she knew I was coming, but when we spoke, it felt like she already knew me. For years, people have been telling me that I must meet Cindy Mochizuki because my research interests in aesthetics are akin to her work which thinks across multiple timelines: Asian and immigrant diasporas, ghosts, and the monsters that are left behind in storytelling. Her large body of work is nourished by the histories of Japanese-Canadian communities in British Columbia and Japan, and her multimedia installations, animations, clay work,...