Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

Jim Wong-Chu Photographs 1973-1981: People, Place, Politics


September 25 – October 18, 2014
Opening reception: Thursday, September 25, 2014 | 7pm
Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 11am-6pm

Jim Wong-Chu: Photographs 1973–1981: People, Place, Politics consists of nearly 100 black-and-white photographs taken by Jim Wong-Chu during the years he attended Emily Carr, then known as the Vancouver School of Art. The photographs personally selected by the artist from hundreds of shots he took during that period include works from his Pender Street East series, various community photos and protest images from the drive to save BBQ Pork, the democratization of Chinese Benevolent Associations, and the Quebec-Columbia Connector Freeway protests. This three week long exhibition coincides with the LiterAsian Festival of Pacific Rim Asian Canadian Writing and comes on the heels of Jim’s significant contribution of fonds to the UBC library.

Born in Hong Kong in 1949, Jim Wong-Chu came to Canada in 1953 settling in Vancouver in 1961. Witness to and participant in much of the Chinese Canadian activism in the 1970s and early 80s, Jim became one of its documenters. After completing a degree in Creative Writing at UBC in the 1980s Jim published Chinatown Ghosts (Arsenal Pulp Press, 1986), the first book of poetry published by an Asian Canadian. As a persistent activist and cultural producer Jim co-founded the Asian Canadian Writers Workshop, Ricepaper Magazine, Pender Guy Radio, the Asian Canadian Performing Arts Resource (ACPAR), literASIAN: A Festival of Pacific Rim Asian Canadian Writing and the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Festival. With the sheer girth of his activity Jim has been instrumental in creating a cultural scene inclusive of Asian Canadian talent.

This exhibition of Jim’s photographs is an important addition to the exhibition history of Centre A in how, in the tradition of Redress Express (2007) and other such exhibitions it contributes to and gives a cultural-historical perspective on conversations about confronting and overcoming discrimination. Uniquely, this rare collection of photographs draws a portrait of Vancouver’s Chinatown in a moment in time when the community was resolute to not take discriminatory policies sitting down.

Images courtesy of the artist.

literASIAN 2014 Events at Centre A

Fiction Book Launch/Reading
Friday, October 10
Featured Writers: Yasuko Thanh, Doretta Lau, Kim Fu, Corinna Chong, Elsie Sze and Tom Cho

Poetry Book Launch/Reading Event
Saturday, October 11
Featured Writers: Souvankham Thammavongsa, Elaine Woo, Louise Bak and Fred Wah



“A Glimpse at Chinatown’s storied past in Vancouver: Photos by Jim Wong-Chu show lively neighbourhood during the 70’s”, Kevin Griffin, The Montreal Gazette, October 3, 2014.

“Jim Wong-Chu: photographs of Chinatown through Chinese Canadian eyes”, Kevin Griffin, The Vancouver Sun, October 3, 2014.

“Chinatown activism: a moment in time”, Dong Yue Su, The Source, Vol. 15, Issue 6 – October 7-21, 2014.

“A Glimpse at Chinatown’s storied past in Vancouver: Photos by Jim Wong-Chu show lively neighbourhood during the 70’s”, Kevin Griffin, Times Colonist, October 5, 2014.

 “Jim Wong-Chu on Photography – People, Place and Politics”, Interview by Molly Caron for Access Television, The Activist Network, September 26, 2014.

“Chinatown in the Seventies: The Images of Jim Wong-Chu – Centre A”Price Tags, October 16, 2014.

“Photo Life Narrative: Jim Wong Chu’s Centre A Exhibit”, Ed Koo, Ed Koo’s Amazing Blog, October 10, 2014.



Special thanks to
Judy Lam Maxwell