Thursday, March 14, 2024

Dusting Off the Suitcase

Here’s a type of announcement I haven’t made in a long while: I’m traveling to Hong Kong today! (Thank you, as usual, to Art Basel and Art Central for the VIP program invitations.)

It’ll be my first time traveling since before the pandemic (my last trip was over four years ago, to Buenos Aires and the Patagonia region of Argentina and Chile, which I wrote about in the early 2020 blog post “Alegría”), making this the longest I’ve gone my entire life without traveling (yes, including when I was little—my About page has always included “globe-trotting polyglot” among my many distinctions, after all).

And it’ll be my first time back in the Fragrant Harbour in five years, since March 2019:

A collage of some of Jenny Lam's iPhone 5s photos from the last time she visited Hong Kong in 2019
Some of my iPhone 5s* photos from that trip.
*(Except for that narrow selfie my cousin took on his phone.)

(In the above collage: the top left photo is from my blog post “‘Life’s too short for sad art’ // A preview of HKwalls 2019”; the top right is from my honed-from-years-of-experience guide “How to make the most of Hong Kong’s Art Gallery Night // or, Art Basel Hasn’t Even Started Yet and My Legs Are Already Tired”; the second row left is of self-taught artist Fung Ming Chip and his partner Yim Tom, both of whom I’d met the previous year and whose studio visit was a highlight; the entire third row is from Take Your Cousin to Work Day the morning my maternal cousin Philip Ng, a martial artist and actor, brought me to TVB; and the middle photo in the fourth row is of my late paternal grandma on the evening I finally got to visit her home in the Pak Tin public housing estate.)

Long-time followers of this blog will remember that I took solo trips to Hong Kong every year from 2012-2019 (and in 2017 my mom tagged along to record her Cantonese opera album!).

This will also be my first time back after my paternal grandmother’s passing from pancreatic cancer (I wrote about her and my maternal grandmother, who raised me and is ten years older than the former and still with us but has dementia, in my November 2020 blog post “A Tale of Two Grandmothers // On Memory”); it’s going to be strange being there and not being able to ramble around country parks with her like I used to, or try to figure out how to rearrange the contents of my hotel’s mini fridge in order to fit all the apples she always greeted me at the airport with, or sit next to her at the banquet-style family dinner we’d have with everyone and get food for her first before getting mine, internally reveling in being able to step into my role as the mature, eldest cousin on my dad’s side (a role I don’t often get to play since I’m one of the youngest cousins on my mom’s side). But also, I’m a different person than I was in 2012 when I was a whippersnapper and had no idea what I was doing (not that I think I know what I’m doing now), and it was like my Hong Kong uncles and grandma were making sure this kid traveling on her own was looked after.

A screenshot of Jenny Lam's 2012 Facebook status at the end of her first full day alone in Hong Kong, which reads: "I love how every single one of my Hong Kong-living uncles and my grandma each called me within the past half hour asking me 1. if I've eaten yet; 2. if I'd like to make plans to have dinner with them this week; and 3. if there's any food I want them to buy for me. Separate calls, same subject. Cantonese. Our lives revolve around food."
My Facebook status at the end of my first full day alone in Hong Kong, 2012.

It’s the kind of change that comes with growing up, isn’t it?

Anyway, I’m looking forward to it, especially since so many new things have popped up in Hong Kong over the years I’ve been away. And since I’ll also be visiting Shenzhen for the first time in a decade!

While I’m overseas, you can: follow along on my socials; view my artwork currently on display in the exhibition Click at The Art Center Highland Park; reserve a copy of LAMINATOR Vol. 1, my brand new zine featuring 68 artists, poets, and writers from around the world (also available in the gift shop of the aforementioned art center while supplies last) (I mailed all pre-orders last week and it’s been so exciting to see folks receive and post about their zines these past couple days!); and collect art from a few of the artists in said publication.

Lastly, some miscellany:

A screenshot of a March 2024 status on Threads by Jenny Lam that reads, "At Walmart with my mom and a sweet old lady approached us and thanked us both for wearing masks. 🥹 (She was masked too.)"
On Threads and Mastodon.

See you on April 2, Chicago!

Saturday, March 2, 2024

In Focus

Me last night with my piece, Petal, which I’d shot on my iPhone 5s in 2014, at the opening reception of the photography exhibition Click at The Art Center Highland Park:

Self-taught artist and photographer Jenny Lam in front of her framed photograph of the staircase inside the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, shot in 2014 on her iPhone 5s, at the opening reception for the photography exhibition Click at The Art Center Highland Park in 2024. She is wearing a black coat and a black facemask.

Love that they hung my photo in this alcove right by the wine:

"Petal" by Jenny Lam, a photograph of the staircase inside the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago shot on iPhone 5s in 2014, framed and hanging in the photography exhibition "Click" at The Art Center Highland Park in 2024

If you missed the event, the show runs through April 6. And if you’re lucky, you can also pick up a copy of my brand new zine in the Gift Shop! I dropped off five books and immediately it was down to four—thanks to artist Diane Ponder who bought one! Congratulations on being the first in-person customer of LAMINATOR Vol. 1!

A small stack of LAMINATOR Vol. 1 zines, created, edited, and designed by Artists on the Lam founder Jenny Lam and featuring 68 artists, poets, and writers from all over Chicago, the country, and the world

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