Art Is My Country: 10 bicultural artists explore the rupture and rebirth of coming to Canada

See the stories of Canadians navigating somewhere between cultural identities in our new series Art Is My Country.

See the stories of Canadians navigating somewhere between identities in our new series Art Is My Country

Art Is My Country is a CBC Arts series that explores the singular worlds of artists who consider themselves bicultural. Seen through the eyes of 10 Canadian artists who have either immigrated to Canada or felt the need to reclaim an identity they thought they had lost, the series examines how each artist uses their craft to navigate, explore and adapt to their new reality and shifting identity.

Watch the trailer:

Watch all 10 episodes now.

Each portrait will highlight one artist's story of rupture, displacement and ultimate rebirth as a new artistic voice contributing to the narrative of Canadian culture and experience.

Here's what you'll see:

Episode 1: 2Fik

We enter the multiple-personality mind of photo performance artist 2Fik, who creates elaborate photo montages to explore identity, gender and image. Watch the episode.

I like the idea of just blowing the concept of image and perception. I use my physicality, my body, my facial hair to disappear in a way and just create a fake reality.- Photo performance artist 2Fik

Episode 2: Ola Volo

Explore the visual world of mural artist Ola Volo, who puts a modern twist on Kazakh folklore to transform public spaces across Canada and abroad. Watch the episode.

Growing up in Kazakhstan, I spent a lot of time on my grandparents' farm. My grandparents would put on records and we would just listen to folktale stories. I spent a lot of time kind of getting swept away into a different world.- Mural artist Ola Volo

Episode 3: Natasha Kanapé Fontaine

Innu poet Natasha Kanapé Fontaine uses her writing to address colonial wounds and reclaim a place for her people in the contemporary narrative. Watch the episode.

When I arrived in Montreal, the feeling of being in-between just became more heavy because I still feel like a stranger here. I feel like an immigrant sometimes.- Innu Poet Natasha Kanapé Fontaine

Episode 4: José Navas

We follow contemporary dancer José Navas as he closes his "Rites" show and begins a new chapter as a soloist. Watch the episode.

I recognized when I arrived to Canada that I had an accent in my dancing, the same way as I roll my r's . The way I move always had something more round or something more fluid in the connectivity. The moment I started to abandon myself into that way of dancing, then I found my voice and instead of trying to erase it. I dance with that accent.- Contemporary dancer José   Navas

Episode 5: Grace Han

We follow ceramicist Grace Han as she uses clay to mould her true identity. Watch the episode.

I don't think I'd be able to explain what the real Grace Han is, but when I do my ceramic work, I don't have to think about who I am. It's just… the body works and then something invisible turns into the energy and then the work captures that person at that moment. I discovered myself in my work.- Ceramicist Grace Han

Episode 6: Shane Keyu Song

We follow Shane Keyu Song, the multi-talented frontwoman of Halifax band Century Egg, as she changes the soundscape of Canadian music. Watch the episode.

The audience don't want to see four white boy bands anymore. The Century Egg project is this fictional fairy land we all share a vision of. You know that everyone wants to be in that world, that fictional world.- Century Egg frontwoman Shane Keyu Song

Episode 7: King Abid

We follow Tunisian reggae artist King Abid as he records a song for the people of his new adopted land. Watch the episode.

My cousin from Montreal said, 'Yeah the music is really rich in Montreal, there's lots of the reggae scene and dancehall scene, so you would be happy to live there.' So when I came…there was nothing, nada , zero, nothing. I cried for two days, and after I thought, 'Do it by yourself, man!'- Reggae artist King Abid

Episode 8: Gu Xiong

Artist Gu Xiong's painful journey from China to Canada unfolds in every piece he creates. Watch the episode.

When I was in China I dreamed about freedom. After I landed here, I started to understand the real meaning of freedom. It is not something given; it is paid for through pain and suffering. Pain is a state of transition from one culture to another.- Artist Gu Xiong

Episode 9: Camille Turner

From Canada's archives to Toronto's Grange neighbourhood, artist Camille Turner exposes Canada's shameful history. Watch the episode.

I want people to see this familiar place in a strange way. I want them to understand that there's way more to the ground we're walking on. The dead may be silent, but they're always present.- Artist Camille Turner

Episode 10: Julius Poncelet Manapul

Contemporary artist Julius Poncelet Manapul transforms gay porn into a delicate social commentary on belonging and safety within the gay community. Watch the episode.

I use these images of the male body that is white and I reconstruct them to question the invisibility of radicalized identity within the queer community.- Contemporary artist Julius Poncelet Manapul


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