Jennifer Davis, Research Photo: Migrant Domestic Workers in Central, 2015, Hong Kong.
How to Make Space is an exhibition that frames the temporary architectures built by Hong Kong's population of female migrant domestic workers (MDWs) as gestures of female spatial agency. Three commissioned projects reveal the oppressive legal and cultural forces that compel the women to occupy public spaces and build structures of provisional materials in which to spend their Sundays off from work. The projects are researched and authored by artists Stephanie Comilang (Toronto/Berlin), Tings Chak (Toronto), and Devora Neumark (Montreal) with Rowena Yin-Fan Chan (Hong Kong). By presenting these works in an accessible and unconventional setting, the exhibition heightens awareness in a broad audience and directly engages the spaces and people with which it is concerned. Together, the projects point toward the possibility of a feminist architecture by striving to employ tactics learned from the MDWs, questioning existing disciplinary and social power structures, and developing new methodologies of How to Make Space.
Rear View (Projects) is Jennifer L. Davis, an architect, and Su-Ying Lee, a contemporary art curator. Both a curatorial collective and an itinerant site for art, they experiment with unconventional platforms to mobilize new interactions between art, place, and audiences. In 2013, they presented Lawrence Weiner's As Long As It Lasts (1992). The text-based work was installed on the façade of Toronto's Centre for Addition and Mental Health and drew attention to a visually discreet institution that vacated the gentrifying Queen West neighborhood soon after. Other recent exhibitions included Flipping Properties (2014), a large-scale installation commissioned for a Toronto Laneway designed by architect Jimenez Lai with Bureau Spectacular. Flipping Properties garnered media attention from ArchDaily, designboom, BlogTO, and Edge Condition Journal. How to Make Space is Rear View (Projects)’s winning exhibition proposal to the Apexart Franchise Program, to be presented in Hong Kong in 2016.
Jennifer L. Davis practices architecture, art, and independent curating in Toronto, Canada. She graduated with her MArch from the University of Toronto (2011) and attended the curatorial intensive program Curating Beyond Exhibition Making at Independent Curators International, NYC (2012). Her projects investigate the political and social factors that shape the built environment. In the field of architecture, Davis has received numerous awards, including the Power Corporation of Canada Award from the Canadian Centre for Architecture (2010) and an honorable mention in the Lost Spaces Calgary design competition (2015). She has worked at design offices in New York, Madrid, and Toronto and has contributed to publications such as Edge Condition (UK) and Canadian Architect magazine. Davis's exhibition-making experience includes serving as exhibition development assistant for the Canada Pavilion at the 53rd International Venice Biennale (2009) and providing architectural consultation and programming for TBD, the exhibition at the Museum for Contemporary Canadian Art (2014).
Su-Ying Lee is an independent curator whose projects often take place outside of the traditional gallery platform. Lee is interested in employing the role of curator as a co-conspirator, accomplice, and active agent. She has also worked institutionally, including in positions as assistant curator for the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) and curator-in-residence at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery. Her recent projects include the exhibition TBD at MOCCA (2014); Céline Condorelli's The Company We Keep, an installation at the University of Toronto's Hart House, which addresses the historical exclusion of women both from the house and from the discourse on friendship in philosophy (2013–14); and Your Disease, Our Delicacy (cuitlachoche), a year-long residency and garden installation at Hart House by Ron Benner, which examined contentious aspects of agriculture and consumption (2012–13).
Stephanie Comilang is a Filipina-Canadian, documentary-based filmmaker. She studied fine arts and media at the Ontario College of Art and Design. Her practice involves collaboration and interviews, as well as cultural diaspora. Comilang’s documentary work includes Children of the King, about children of Elvis impersonators, and Flirting: Kyoto, about flirting practices in Kyoto, Japan, which was made in residence at the Kyoto Art Centre. Her works have been screened internationally at film festivals and art institutions, including the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, the Reel Asian Film Festival, and the Banff Centre. In 2015, Comilang embarked on a project researching Filipina Migrant Domestic Workers (MDWs) in Hong Kong, which was funded by a Canada Council for the Arts Grant. This research will evolve into a film based on her direct experiences with employment agents, advocacy groups, and the women who contribute to Hong Kong's landscapes of temporary architecture.
Tings Chak is a Hong Kong-born and Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist who holds an MArch from the University of Toronto. She is a migrant justice organizer who works alongside migrant workers, undocumented people, and immigrant detainees. In the field of architecture, she has received several awards including the Power Corporation of Canada Award (2013) from the Canadian Centre for Architecture and the Kuwabara-Jackman Thesis Gold Medal for her research on immigration detention centers in Canada. Her work was published by the Architecture Observer as an architectural graphic novel, Undocumented: The Architecture of Migrant Detention (2014), and has been presented in art, architecture, and academic institutions across Canada, the United States, and Europe. She has contributed to various publications, including Scapegoat: Architecture, Landscape, and Political Economy, Room Magazine, The Funambulist: Politics of Space and Bodies, and Stonecutter Journal, and has exhibited at A-Space Gallery, Eric Arthur Gallery, and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art.
Rowena Yin-Fan Chan is a Hong Kong-based artist and graphic designer who was raised and educated in San Francisco. In 2013, she completed her BFA (with honors) at California College of the Arts, with an emphasis in book art, drawing, and mixed media.
Devora Neumark is an interdisciplinary artist-researcher, educator, lecturer, and consultant for the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador. Her work addresses the intersections of forced displacement, loss, and the act of witness through involvement with live community performance and art events in urban settings. Neumark's practice is deliberately dialogic and examines the relationship between the act of beautifying one's home(land) and the dislocation that follows violence and/or environmental disaster. Neumark completed her research-based PhD, Radical Beauty for Troubled Times, at Concordia University's Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture (2013). Since 2003, she has been teaching in the MFA Interdisciplinary Arts Program at Goddard College. She is currently developing a new body of work, Where is Your Nature?, inspired by indigenous philosophies and Buddhist teachings, as well as art and writing practices focused on the environment.