Across the street, far away

"The shell of the former Ho Sun Hing Printing Company, Canada’s oldest Chinese print shop, which stands on the same block of East Georgia Street as Access Gallery, closed permanently on March 28, 2014 after 106 years of business. First established as a rubber stamp store by Lam Lat Tong, a cook on the rail line, Ho Sun Hing grew to become an institution in Chinatown, producing all manner of books, pamphlets, announcements, business cards and restaurant menus for several generations of Chinese-Canadian communities... Guadalupe Martinez’s sensitivity to the spatial, social and political matter of her surroundings is acute. Since her relocation to Vancouver from Argentina in 2008, she has become increasingly interested in exploring the role of the body in mediating space and materials. “I don’t see materials existing without the body, at least not in my work,”[i] she has explained. Her research combines performance and considerations of three-dimensionality to create site-specific work that mnemonically activates found materials, “reanimating their meaning,” in her words, “into new structures of signification and resistance.”[ii] Her actions are motivated by a deep respect for place, despite (or perhaps because of) her own experience of geographical displacement.

For Across the street, far away, Martinez’s discovery of a particular circumstance – the immanent closure of Ho Sun Hing Printers – became the project’s focus and propelling force. On Friday, June 13, 2014, following negotiations with the new owners’ demolition crew, Martinez and several volunteers carried the remaining structural materials from the interior space of the emptied print shop down the block, to then be reassembled in Access Gallery. The simple act of transporting materials from one place to another echoed the unspectacular movement of countless other inhabitants, pets and things – crates of produce, laundry bags, bales of newspaper, window-washing buckets – traveling up and down East Georgia Street on any given day over the past century. In lifting and carrying the heavy materials together, negotiating sidewalk traffic and other people and things, Martinez and her participants performed a kind of improvised choreography, bringing a quiet observance to the provisional and fleeting relations between bodies, materials and space. The poetics – and ethics – of this activation serve to remind us of the intricate nexus of entanglements between consciousness, the body, and the objects amongst which we dwell and move.[iii]..."

[i] Guadalupe Martinez, quoted in Polina Bachlakova, “The Work of Guadalupe Martinez,” Beatroute (October 3, 2013),

[ii] See
[iii] See Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Phenomenology of Perception, trans. by Colin Smith (New York: Humanities Press, and London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1962); new trans. by Donald A. Landes (New York: Routledge, 2012

*excerpt essay by Kimberly Phillips, from publication The Weight of Things for Eight Ounces Half a Pound.