My works draw much inspiration from the arts of Central Asia (Silk Road countries), particularly during the 7th century in which the confluence of many cultures at their height such as Tang China, Gupta India, Persia (Sassanid), and the West (mostly Byzantine, though Irish and other northern European motifs have also been found) fused together.
This enables artists to create frescoes and sculptures in which Buddhas are flanked with Western style angels, or dressed in the styles of Roman emperors yet sport Chinese jewels and sandals etc.
Very much like fusion cuisine of today, it became the hallmark of sophistication. The salad roll from Vietnam, first seen in Vancouver in 1979, is now sold in supermarkets with ingredients not found in Vietnam, such as smoked salmon and dill.
Calling for Ba Ba (Mrs. Ba) is a search for the story of a woman who suffered many misfortunes and had great resolve. It is also a call for harmony through food and cookery. Ba Ba, who owned a noodle stall in Qui Nhon, Vietnam may have perished but, from the humble beginnings of the Vancouver Vietnamese communities, a quarter century since the fall of Vietnam, almost 200 Vietnamese restaurants are now located in the Fraser Valley.
“These small shrines displayed in noodle houses will stand as
an important record of the history of Vietnamese-Canadians.”
Some references in the work:
taped interviews with restaurant workers
The audio component of the wall-mounted altars play interviews of restaurant workers in Vancouver. They are played back at whisper-quiet levels so that the listener will have to strain to hear, as if eavesdropping on a conversation. Besides being a study of the rise in popularity of Vietnamese foods and restaurants, a leitmotif throughout these interviews is the search for Ba Ba (Mrs. Ba).
the use of red threads
red threads are used to tied the big toes of the dead together. This ancient ritual is still being used though its meaning has been lost. The original Vietnamese (Annamite) has a genetic peculiarity in that the big toes are almost perpendicular to the feet.
the use of joss paper
joss paper are burnt as offerings to the dead. (though Asian stores carry joss paper, I made the joss papers for the origami paper boats in the installation)
an ingredient found in animist rituals of my province. It is also a vital ingredient for making nuoc mam (fish sauce) and mam (fermented shrimp or fish paste). These condiments are necessary in a good bowl of noodle soup.