Main Space Exhibition / 

bring back as souvenirs

Snack Witch Joni Cheung

May 17 - June 29, 2024

bring back as souvenirs is an installation that developed from Snack Witch Joni Cheung’s interest in the Good Morning Towel, a banal object she grew up with in Chinese restaurants and Hong Kong style cafes. In 2019, they came across these towels as a display at the Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile (Hong Kong). Seeing them not being used for their intended purpose was jarring. Her relationship with these objects shifted and they became curious about how they came to be.

Cheung couldn’t find any sources traditionally valued within academia to support their research. They started wading through Facebook groups and personal blogs to pick out phrases that depicted how people interacted with the towels. She selected four phrases that illustrate the ways they’ve seen these objects move in the world and screen-printed them onto towels their mother helped source in so-called Vancouver.

As part of this exhibition, Snack Witch has invited old and new friends to borrow a towel to take home. The objects live with their temporary guests: collecting dust, dirt and stains. Once returned to the gallery, she notes who, where, and amount of time the towel has interacted with their guest host. The accumulated stains become documents of the ways they’ve been used to care for other people and objects outside of the presentation space.

Documentation by Danny Luong.

dear good morning towel by Steph Wong Ken

dear good morning towel who marked you red leaving the g unfinished the gentle greeting of “ood” the symmetry of the sloping M the cloth stamped with the number 96 two ruddy halves on the white woven pattern speckled rows of empty boxes a reminder they want our food but not us our hospitality but not us wash your face wrap your hair it’s this bright white so you can tell when its ready to rinse under warm water a marketing strategy a portal to pink plastic cups oily spaghetti with finger thick garlic bread at the hong kong style café dribbling tea on the pastel table the metal counter at the cooking school in college where your parents cleaned animal blood polished knives wiped away each other’s mistakes wound around a man’s neck at the night market to collect sweat on a bright white collar the natty fringe brushing the lacquer chair in the sitting room at the bottom of grandma’s good leather purse with the clasp that closes quick as an eye on guests at a funeral to hold to their faces when they say goodbye issued to a soldier in need of repair to prevent bed pillows from carrying ungodly stains the care is in the tightness of the loops a single piece you cut into twelve equal parts the indestructible weave wrapping a body a surface a material hung up to dry like an elder’s altar kept longer than a child a country a permit a bank account a mailing address dear good morning towel who made you so cheerful with service soaked in a lifetime of attention so good at your work we almost forgot you could be thrown away reduced to a counterfeit a pile of holey rags a piece of the hands that touched you disappearing into the fabric dear good morning towel you’re spread out you’re getting lost in the laundry at the bottom of a stone well stuffed into a plastic crate on a busy Chinatown street between fingers desperate to feel clean you’re spreading like a sea we can fold and unfold anytime like a map

🔮 Snack Witch Joni Cheung 🍡 is a grateful, uninvited guest born—and knows she wants to die—on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh, Stó:lō, and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh peoples. They are a Certified Sculpture Witch with an MFA from Concordia University (2023). She holds a BFA with Distinction in Visual Art (2018) from the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University. As a wicked #magicalgirl ✨ who eats art and makes snacks, she has exhibited and curated shows, off- and online, across Turtle Island. Currently, they are based on the stolen lands of the Kanien’kehá:ka peoples.

They are a recipient of numerous awards, including the Individual Arts Grants—Visual Artists: British Columbia Arts Council; Research and Creation Grant: Canada Council for the Arts; and the Dale and Nick Tedeschi Studio Arts Fellowship.

Aside from art-making, Joni likes wandering down grocery store aisles and drinking bubble tea.

Steph Wong Ken is a writer with ties to Mohkinsstis and Tkaronto. She guest edited issue 53 of C Magazine on Chinatown and is a contributing editor to Colonial Imports, a risograph publication by Yolkless Press.

中文翻译 Chinese Translation ...

Snack Witch Joni Cheung and The New Gallery gratefully acknowledge the support of the British Columbia Arts Council.