How to Give Ghosts a Sunburn

October 30th, 2021 – December 30th, 2021

A photo of a garden in front of a white concrete building is printed on a large piece of fabric. Deep green leaves and pale pink flowers surround a raised brick platform in the middle of the garden. On the platform are two wooden chairs, which face each other. The word proof is embroidered on an angle repeatedly across the image.

Florence Yee, PROOF – Chinatown Anti-Displacement Garden, hand embroidered thread on inkjet-printed cotton voile, 51″ x 37″, 2020.

How to Give Ghosts a Sunburn by Florence Yee

Exhibition: October 30 – December 5, 2021

Join us for an Interactive Artist Talk on Zoom with Florence Yee on Tuesday, November 9, 2021 at 6-7pm.

In this exhibition, Florence Yee presents recent embroidery and text-based artworks that dissect the motives, values, and assumptions that produce public monuments. Drawing on commemorative methods like bronze casting and photography, Yee recontextualizes experiences from their own life to create works that favour process over completion, uncertainty over authority, and consensual recognition over exploitation.

The exhibition’s title reveals a few important things about Yee’s work, including a recurring theme in their practice: futility. Without skin, sunburns are likely a nonissue for ghosts; in this context, How to Give Ghosts a Sunburn reveals Yee’s skepticism of monument-making itself. Nevertheless, the ‘how-to’ title gives the unmistakable impression that this work seeks an approach to monument-making despite these doubts. It also reveals the type of monument Yee is after, one that, through close proximity and searing attention, proves the existence of something immaterial or gives temporary shape to that which is hard to define.

In two of the works, Yee has embroidered the word “proof” across the surface of two images. One is of the Anti-Displacement Garden in Toronto’s Chinatown and the other is a moment of queer intimacy. The watermark designates these works as prototypes, but it also indicates Yee’s desire for the series to be read as evidence of small, but vital gestures: in this case, acts of resistance to gentrification and queer love respectively. Other works explore how memories can fade or spread like a virus, and another posits whether multitudes can be held within commemorative acts. How to Give Ghosts a Sunburn assembles these recent ruminations and invites audiences to consider their relationship to these and other monuments to memory.

The RBC Emerging Artist Residency Program is generously sponsored by the RBC Foundation and the RBC Emerging Artist Project.

Florence Yee is a visual artist and recovering workaholic based in Tkaronto/Toronto and Tiohtià:ke/Montreal. Their practice uses text-based art, sculpture, and textile installation through the intimacy of doubt. Their work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art (2021), the Art Gallery of Ontario (2020), the Textile Museum of Canada (2020), and the Gardiner Museum (2019), among others. Along with Arezu Salamzadeh, they have co-founded the Chinatown Biennial in 2020. They obtained a BFA from Concordia University and an MFA from OCAD U.

This exhibition is supported by the RBC Foundation and the RBC Emerging Artist Project.