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A Place For Wholesome Amusement
In a striking new neon light installation for the FENTSTER window gallery, Toronto-based and Beijing-born multidisciplinary artist Shellie Zhang reimagines marquee signage to represent two significant cultural institutions established by Chinese and Jewish newcomers to Toronto.
Zhang was invited to mine the extensive holdings of the Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre (OJA) for intersections between Jewish and Chinese histories in Toronto. Her research at the OJA led to the building on the north-east corner of Dundas and Spadina that functioned as a cultural destination for both communities.
First known as the Standard Theatre, the venue opened as a Yiddish theatre in 1922 and five decades later hosted Chinese cinema as the Golden Harvest Theatre. The artist considers how one building served as a locus for cultural expression and cohesion for two different communities. Separated by decades but both operating in their native languages, the venues fostered and celebrated these distinctive cultural identities.
Accompanied by historic information detailing over 75 years of the building’s continuous operation together with reproductions of archival materials, the exhibition surfaces immigrant narratives embedded in the architecture of the Kensington Market-Chinatown neighbourhood, revealing little-known points of connection and breaking down siloed conversations about our city’s past.
EXHIBITION/ February 26 - May 22, 2018
LOCATION/ Fentster @ Makom, 402 College Street
OPENING EVENT/ Thursday, March 15 | 7 – 9 PM | FREE
HOURS/ On view 24/7 in our window gallery
Curated by Donna Bernardo-Ceriz, Dara Solomon and Evelyn Tauben
Presented by FENTSTER and the Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre.
Featured in Myseum of Toronto Intersections, an annual festival of exhibitions and events showcasing different perspectives on the city's natural, cultural, and historic diversity
Presenting site-specific installations of contemporary art connected to the Jewish experience, FENTSTER (Yiddish for "window") is a is an independent artist-run exhibition space located in the storefront window of Makom: Creative Downtown Judaism.
The Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, a department of UJA Federation, is the largest repository of Jewish life in Canada. The OJA acquires, preserves and makes accessible the records that chronicle our province's Jewish history.