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Interview / Sunsun Liu – Heritage As Second Home

December 6th 2023 – February 22nd 2024, Massy Arts will host, Roots of Fate, a window installation by Vancouver-based emerging visual artist Sunsun Liu. Exhibited in one of the building’s windows, the installation wishes to celebrate cultural diversity, and the importance of heritage/tradition.

Sunsun Liu was born and raised in Thailand until 2018, when she immigrated to so-called Vancouver with her family. Living in Canada introduced Liu to Photography as an art form, and not just a means to an end to capture moments as photographs. Currently, she is a second-year student studying Photography at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

This project is supported by the Community Arts Council of Vancouver + First Peoples’ Cultural Council.

The Massy Arts Gallery is located at 23 East Pender Street in Chinatown, Vancouver.
The gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday, 12pm to 5pm.
Entrance is free, and masks are mandatory.

To contact the gallery, send an email to:

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To celebrate the installation, curator Rafael Zen interviews Sunsun for Massy Arts, addressing the artist’s connection with palm reading, and its concept of predicting one’s future solely by body inscriptions.

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Sunsun Liu – Heritage As Second Home

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Rafael Zen – Why this title, Roots of Fate? Do you think photography allows you to explore what kinds of roots? In this sense, why is the concept of root important to this work?

Sunsun Liu –  The concept of palm reading was first introduced to me through Thai culture. The word “Roots” from the title stems from the connection between myself and my Thai heritage; in other words, my root. It’s also inspired by how palm lines look like tree roots! Combining both meanings of the word ‘roots’ with the concept of palm reading that revolves around destiny and fortune telling, created the title Roots of Fate.

Photography allows me to construct this notion using images of real palm lines, which in a way, grounded the work in reality even when it appears abstract. Parallel to how the predictions from palm reading is based off of a part of human anatomy, yet the reading itself is conceptual and originated from beliefs.

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RZ – In your artist statement, you mention that Roots of Fate is inspired by palm reading and its concept of predicting one’s future solely by the lines on hand palms. Why is the concept of palm reading interesting to you? By bringing this visual concept to your collage piece, what do you wish to evoke to your audience? And finally, what can our palms reveal?

SL – Ever since I know of the concept of reading palm lines and predicting one’s future through them, it sparked a sense of curiosity in me. When I was young, the curiosity and anticipation of knowing my future was overwhelming, and I remember asking my mother over and over again to read my palms. Eventually, she took a glance, but she refused to tell me to this day, which, teases my child-like curiosity even more.

In my culture, children are not allowed to get their futures read or be told, because we believe that the future will change once the child knows of it. We also believe that palm lines can change with growth especially children’s palms, so the reading wouldn’t be accurate. The idea that I can’t know my prediction has been keeping me interested in this subject ever since: waiting eagerly to be old enough to experience palmistry myself.

Despite not understanding what the lines on my palms mean, I do know that they can reveal your overall life experiences, your mind, soul, luck, love life, and health, and that there are lines specifically for those. By bringing this concept into my collage piece, I aim to spark curiosity.

Not knowing the language of palm lines yet knowing that they can mean something, will hopefully cause the viewers to look down at their palms and wonder: reflecting on their past, present, and what they truly want in the future.

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RZ – You say you are often inspired by personal experiences of living with a mixture of four cultures (Thai, Taiwanese, English, and Canadian). What aspects of this mixture of influences guide your work? When you create, do you consider the traces that emerge as an artist who is also an immigrant to this new place? How does being an immigrant inform your work in Canada?

SL – Roots of Fate was heavily influenced by the Thai culture aspect of my identity. Being an immigrant allows me to bring the traditional concept from my motherland, and present it to the part of the world that might not be so familiar with the belief.

I’m grateful for living and growing up in such a diverse and multicultural community like Vancouver, because it taught me that cultures are meant to be appreciated and shared amongst people. The openness of the community influenced me to reflect on the traces of different cultures that has shaped my identity today.

Knowing that something that is a part of me can be appreciated and showcased through art has encouraged me to display more aspects of my native culture to the people of the place I now live and called ‘second home’.

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RZ – If you were invited to suggest another artist to our readers, one that would create an interesting dialogue with your installation piece, what artist/work would you suggest? What dialogues could emerge from these two pieces?

SL – Nicholas Joseph Crowley’s Fortune telling by Cup tossing, is a beautiful oil on canvas piece from 1842 that displays a scene of a gypsy woman performing a tea leaves reading session. The topic of fortune telling is shared in both his work and mine, but the methods, cultural context and, history are completely different.

However, the painting and my art piece can also generate the same questions: how can tea leaves predict the future, how can palm lines predict the future, what’s the origin behind the belief, etc. It’s fascinating to learn about the different ways in which people from different parts of the world predict one’s future, so I believe that the painting will create an insightful and intriguing conversation with my collage piece.

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