Lan "Florence" Yee
What Academia Has Done to Me
Curated by Vince Rozario
April 24 - June 2, 2023
Vernissage : April 27th, 2023, 5 pm to 7 pm
Institutional language creates the illusion of collectivity— deploying words like community, diaspora, resilience and care to name entities and processes that its logic of power cannot entirely capture. Lan “Florence” Yee often finds themselves stuck between tokenism and exclusion, confronting scarcity, as well as raced and gendered expectations of labour.
Beginning with the question, “what do we lose when we describe ourselves?” Lan's work often embodies the anxieties that come with identification. Comprising primarily text-based interventions, each work foregrounds variations of self-doubt that acknowledge their complicity in the systems they are attempting to critique.
These anxieties find expression in prolonged and repetitive gestures— meticulously sewing words into fabric, teasing out their poetic absurdities, leaving the raw edges of each page to be felt. They invite you to inhabit these anxieties with them, to feel the heft of each word in the ridges of the embroidery. This is a collective exercise in sitting with discomfort, confronting the futility of symbolic gestures, and abandoning the expectation that artistic labour can remake the world.
Accompanying the exhibition is Kind of a Collective, a six-week knowledge-sharing project tackling issues of creative labour, sustainability, boundaries, funding, led by artists, curators, and cultural workers. This program functions as a complementary antithesis to the anxieties and questions asked by the show’s artwork. It distills lofty aspirations of social transformation into smaller, quieter gestures and ways of relating, grounded in more immediate realities, that may ultimately stay with us longer.
Written by Vince Rozario
Kind of a Collective (KoaC) is a peer-mentorship project that will run alongside Lan “Florence” Yee’s exhibition at the FOFA Gallery, What Academia Has Done to Me. Starting with the central question: ‘How do we collect ourselves?,’ the project aims to support emerging artists in developing forms of creative practice that are neglected by traditional university arts education, namely: collective and community-engaged practices.
KoaC is created by Vince Rozario, Lan “Florence” Yee, and Mattia Zylak. Working within artist-run centres, DIY collectives, and their own artistic practices, they recognize people’s active desire to create space for their communities. Having each completed a university arts education, they also recognize that it failed to prepare them for the community-engaged practices they currently pursue. KoaC supports emerging and aspiring collectives by filling in the gaps left by university arts education to better prepare them for the transition from student to community member.
KoaC addresses the practical challenges faced by artists and cultural workers in collective and community-engaged practices. With an emphasis on workshops and peer-mentorship, the program facilitators and participants will form (kind of) a collective.
Lan “Florence” Yee is a visual artist and serial collaborator based in Tkaronto/Toronto and Tiohtià:ke/Mooniyang/Montreal. They collect text in underappreciated places and ferment it until it is too suspicious to ignore. Lan’s work has been exhibited at the Darling Foundry (2022), the Toronto Museum of Contemporary Art (2021), the Art Gallery of Ontario (2020), the Textile Museum of Canada (2020), and the Gardiner Museum (2019), among others. Along with Arezu Salamzadeh, they co-founded the Chinatown Biennial in 2020. They obtained a BFA from Concordia University and an MFA from OCAD U.
Vince Rozario is an independent critic, curator, writer, arts administrator, and community organizer based in Tkarón:to/ Toronto. They have presented curatorial projects at the Art Gallery of Guelph, Xpace Cultural Centre, the Gladstone Hotel and the Canadian Filmmakers’ Distribution Centre. They have published criticism in C Magazine, Momus, and ArtsEverywhere, and contributed to exhibition texts for Whippersnapper Gallery, InterAccess and Gallery 44. They were the winner of the 2018 C New Critics Award and the 2021 Middlebrook Prize for Young Canadian Curators. They are a co-founder of Bricks and Glitter, a grassroots, intergenerational QTBIPOC arts festival, and currently serve on the board of Whippersnapper Gallery.
Mattia Zylak is an arts worker based in Tiohtià:ke/Mooniyang/Montréal. She holds a BFA in Art History from Concordia University and an MFA in Criticism & Curatorial Practice from OCAD University. Mattia is pursuing an MA in Arts Leadership from Queen’s University where she is researching alternative forms of governance (or ungovernance) within the context of Canadian artist-run centres. She has worked at non-profit art galleries including SBC Gallery of Contemporary art (Montréal) and Gallery TPW (Toronto). Mattia is currently the General Co-director & Operations at La Centrale galerie Powerhouse (Montréal), an artist-run centre dedicated to multidisciplinary and intersectional feminist practices.