Illuminated Niagara Falls

Shining a light on the labour of migrant workers in the Niagara area

Gu Xiong and his daughter Yu Gu are taking part in Every.Now.Then: Reframing Nationhood a multimedia installation currently being held at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) until Dec 10th, 2017. Gu Xiong’s mixed-media installation, “Illuminated Niagara Falls”, and Yu Gu’s video installation, “Interior Migrations”, are presented side by side complementing each other. This exhibition explores three urgent questions through the eyes of some of the country’s best emerging and established artists: where has Canada come from, what it is now, and where is it going?

This exhibition attracted close to 4700 visitors for the opening ceremony and continues to attract tourists and local residents of Ontario every day. In addition, multiple local and international newspapers such  as Canadian ArtThe Globe and Mail  and The Star featured the exhibition. For more information about this group exhibition please visit AGO’s official website.

The following paragraph is Gu Xiong’s statement.

“Niagara Falls is such an iconic Canadian place, but few know about the seasonal migrant workers who harvest produce in the region, or appreciate their contributions. At the busiest times of the year, these people work twelve to fourteen hour days, seven days a week. It reminds me of my time during China’s Cultural Revolution when I was sent to the countryside to labour on the farms.

I think about these migrant workers’ sacrifices. Many come from Jamaica and Mexico, so they leave their families for eight to ten months of the year, just to be able to earn a living and send household items to loved ones back home. The labour of migrant workers illuminates the falls-far more so than the dye used in “souvenir water,” or the spotlight directed at the falls.”

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