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respectfulchild: 落叶归根 :: Falling Leaves Return To Their Roots


My ideas for 落叶归根  [luò yè guī gēn] first started forming when I learned that the land Remai Modern sits on used to be Chinatown in the early 20th century. As I learned more about this often overlooked history, I noticed the emotional connection I felt to early Chinese migrants, despite not being related to them. Around the same time, my parents were telling me about the Hungry Ghost Festival back in Malaysia, where paper effigies are burned as offerings to provide for the needs of the ancestors. I was drawn to this act of burning as a form of transformation, a way to communicate with ancestral spirits and care for them in everyday life.

Event/Exhibition meta autogenerated block.


Remai Modern

I’ve always felt a bit lost in terms of my relationship to this land and place. My parents are immigrants and we are settlers; our ancestral roots are on the other side of the world. 落叶归根  is my realization of the broader ways that ancestors can be defined, outside of blood relations. I can have a relationship with the early Chinese settlers and Indigenous ancestors of this land, who laid the foundations for the life I live today. I can express my gratitude and promise not only to remember them, but to be responsible and accountable to them; to take care of what they cultivated and honour their work and care.

Installation view, respectfulchild, 落叶归根 :: falling leaves return to their roots, 2020, RBC Emerging Artist Series, Remai Modern, Saskatoon. Photo: Blaine Campbell.

I decided to make a gate as a nod to the proposed Riversdale Chinatown Gate that was never built. Symbolically, this gate represents a portal between our world and the ancestral world. I chose the Chinese idiom 落叶归根, “falling leaves return to their roots,” as the title to invite you to join me in finding our way back to our roots, our ancestors, our histories.

Installation view, respectfulchild, 落叶归根 :: falling leaves return to their roots, 2020, RBC Emerging Artist Series, Remai Modern, Saskatoon. Photo: Blaine Campbell.

Over the coming months I will cover the gate with a paper skin, each sheet containing a note to the ancestors. Anyone can participate by writing a message, in person or online. In January, the gate will be burned as part of a private ceremony, opening up a connection across time and space.


当我得知Remai Modern坐落于20世纪初的唐人街时,我的项目概念“落叶归根”就开始形成。当我对这段被经常忽略的历史有了更多的了解时,我注意到我与早期的中国移民有了情感上的联系,虽然我们并没有亲缘关系。大约在同一时期,我的父母给我讲述了一些关与马来西亚的中元节习俗,比如焚烧纸像作为奉献给祖先的祭祀品。这就振奋我产生了一种幻化形式为祖先灵魂的交流的方式。





The annual RBC Emerging Artist Series provides funding for the production of a new work at Remai Modern.

年度RBC Emerging Artist Series为Remai Modern的新作品制作提供支持。


respectfulchild is an artist born, raised, and living as an uninvited guest on Treaty 6 Territory. Working in sound, performance, and interdisciplinary collaboration, they explore the quiet tensions and chaotic beauty of being a queer Chinese settler on the prairies. 

敬兒是位当地出生的艺术家,Treaty 6 Territory的不速之客。他的作品利用声音与表演和跨领域的合作,来探索一位酷儿华裔草原定居者所体验到的一些微张力与混乱美好。

Chinese translation by: Julian Gan


respectfulchild would like to extend a special thank you to / 特别感谢以下几位的帮助:

Julian Gan, Josephine Gan, Jotham Gan, Heather Kevill, Kate Gibb, Andreas Buchwaldt, Shellie Zhang, Marcel Petit, Yuki Tanaka, Julie Oh, Kahn Lam, Laura Civica, Harris Ford, Simon Fuh, Ari Schneider, Francis Lam, Jie Yan, Pat Keyser, Jessica Szeto, Erica Violet Lee.

Curatorial Team

Curated by Rose Bouthillier, Curator (Exhibitions)

策展人: Rose Bouthillier (展览)