…Very quietly I take my leave, as quietly as I came here
Henry Heng Lu
May 28 — July 27, 2018
+15 Window Exhibition
A special thank you to our friends at Resolve Photo for their generous support and expertise in producing this exhibition.
“Very quietly I take my leave,
As quietly as I came here;
Quietly I wave goodbye,
To the rosy clouds in the western sky.”
–Xu Zhimo, Saying Goodbye to Cambridge Again, 1928
Southern Chinese city Shenzhen is China’s most successful Special Economic Zone that was established in the context of the country’s modernization through its Open Door Policy (announced by China’s then leader Deng Xiaoping) in 1978. Modeled after Hong Kong, Shenzhen is considerably less political than Northern cities such as the Capital Beijing and Tianjin and has branded itself as an open space for innovation and foreign businesses. However, regarded as a cultural desert and a city of migrant workers, the city has been struggling with defining itself with a core cultural identity. Born in Shenzhen, the artist grew up with this then-emerging modern Chinese city witnessing the evolutions of its economic and political landscape.
After spending the first 17 years of his life in Shenzhen, the artist moved to Canada in 2011. As part of the more recent influx of Mainland Chinese immigrants into Canada, the artist finds himself stuck in two loose identities: A former resident of Shenzhen who finds it different to tell who he is, and a Chinese Canadian that has been an outsider to the mainstream Canada. In Canada, he has been often seen as a representative of, an exile from, or generally associated with “Communist China” by many, simply based on China’s political system.
During a recent trip back to Shenzhen, the artist attempted to reconnect with his past in the city. By documenting traces of what might be considered “Socialist/Communist” and iconic imagery of the country’s leaders found in spaces in which he spent a lot of time as a teenager, such as schools, bookstores and his father’s office, the artist examines how Socialist and Post-Socialist ideologies may have influenced his everyday thinking and what may have defined him in Western eyes.
Henry Heng Lu is a Chinese-born, Toronto-based artist and curator. Lu primarily works with photography, video, and performance to investigate often overlooked narratives surrounding cultural identities and inequalities during the 21st century, in terms of values, doubt, insecurity, and vulnerability. He is co-founder and curator of Call Again, a Toronto-based initiative/collective committed to creating space for contemporary diasporic artistic practices and to expanding the notion of Asian art in the context of North America and beyond, through events and exhibitions. He has presented projects through numerous channels, including Creative Time Summit, Art Museum at the University of Toronto, CONTACT Photography Festival, Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival, Vtape, and Toronto Public Library. He holds a Master of Visual Studies from the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto.