Jiak ba buay? / Have you eaten?
EXHIBITION| 21 April – 27 May, 2023
OPENING RECEPTION| 21 April – 7PM – 10PM
WORKSHOP| 22 April 12PM – 4PM
The memories Angeline Simon holds of her grandparents, aunts, and uncles revolve around
being greeted with the question, “jiak ba buay?” (have you eaten?). This is a common Hokkien
greeting used as a way to express care for loved ones, similar to asking, “how are you?”
Hokkien is a Chinese dialect widely spoken amongst Chinese diaspora in parts of Southeast
Asia, and is the dialect Simon’s maternal family speaks.
The act of sharing food maintains and strengthens relationships. Food crosses lingual and
cultural barriers, showing care for those closest to us by ensuring they always have enough on
their plate. In Chinese culture, having family dinners together is believed to bring harmony,
peace, and closeness. This exhibition presents ceramic sculptures of foods such as bak cang,
kolo mee and various fruits that Simon ate at her Ah Ma’s (grandma’s) kitchen table in Kuching, Malaysia. By maintaining familiarity to Hokkien and Chinese-Malaysian food culture, Simon resists the fade of intergenerational memory.
Gleaning through old storage boxes in her parent’s basement and collecting images from
aunts and uncles during visits, Simon has been slowly archiving her family photographs.
Throughout Simon’s search to better understand her biracial identity, these photographs
have led her to spend time refamiliarizing herself with relatives that have passed and
developing a greater understanding of her parent’s experiences immigrating to Canada.
Mining these photographic archives as source material for her collages, the resulting works
span multiple time periods and geographies.
By digitally manipulating, cutting, and combining these images, timelines, places and
generations merge together, commenting on the disjointed nature of families in diaspora. As
a second generation Canadian, Simon utilizes photographs and food to find lineal and
cross-cultural connections that resonate with anyone who has looked into their ancestral
past for answers.
Angeline Simon is a multidisciplinary artist based in Lethbridge, AB/Treaty 7 Territory. She
graduated from the University of Lethbridge in 2018 with a BFA in Art Studio. As a second
generation biracial Canadian, Simon explores familial narratives and the dynamics within
contrasting cultures. The physical distance from family members and a lack of participation in
both German and Chinese-Malaysian cultural traditions motivated Simon to investigate her
ancestral past. Her work has been exhibited at galleries and institutions including the University
of Lethbridge Helen Christou Gallery, Harcourt House Artist Run Centre, Contemporary Calgary,
Southern Alberta Art Gallery, and Art Gallery Evergreen (outdoor installation as part of Capture
Photography Festival 2022).