Time Capsule

by Rui Liu

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Artist Statement

Time Capsule foregrounds Chinatown as an overlooked space of queer life-making and organizing in Tkaronto. By showcasing a site where QTBIPOC schemed, lived, laughed, and loved, it aims to cast light on alternative queer spaces beyond the Gay Village as the privileged site of queerness. It derails settler colonial, heteropatriarchal temporality by addressing, in one stroke, both ancestors and future kin. It asks, what kinds of traces resound around us? What kinds of future impulses can disrupt the past? 

Artist Bio

Rui Liu is an unfinished haiku, a blurry photo, and an off-tune rendition. Her work revolves around the unrepresentable and the troublesome. She is interested in the slipperiness of identity, in our non-innocent entanglements, and in the always already occurring motions of social change. 

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The Making Of "Time Capsule"


I drew heavily from Marvelous Grounds: Queer of Colour Histories of Toronto (2018), a collection of stories and histories by QTBIPOC activists and artists, edited by Jin Haritaworn, Ghaida Moussa, and Syrus Marcus Ware. In particular, Jin Haritaworn’s interview with Richard Fung titled “It Was a Heterotopia” and Alan Li’s piece on queer Asian activism from the 1980s to the 2000s were influential in revealing the intersections between queerness and Asian racial formation throughout Toronto’s history. In addition, I was deeply influenced by Toni Morrison’s essay “The Site of Memory,” which challenges the violent facticities of everyday life to postulate and recuperate alternative accounts of history. During this time, I was also reading a lot of spatial politics theory by scholars like Katherine McKittrick, Tiffany Lethabo King, and Mishuana Goeman, which challenged me to think about alternative geographies and that which has been rendered ungeographic.

Aesthetically I was influenced by essay films like Ming Yuen S. Ma’s Toc Storee (1992), Trinh T. Minh-ha’s Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1985), and Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil (1983).

In congealing ideas for the final video, I watched a lot of films at Vtape, and perused ephemera at the Arquives. I also had very generative and revitalizing conversations with Nancy Seto and Katherine Chun, about their experiences coming-of-age as queer Asian women. I started from a position that was highly resistant to categories like queer and Asian, before slowly realizing how powerful, though arbitrary and messy, such umbrella terms have been for political mobilization. 

Using Format