Family Archives: Bathroom Renovations made in 2004

Annie Tong Zhou Lafrance

Family Archives: Bathroom Renovations made in 2004, 2020
Weaving of reused photos with sewing threads
Embroidery thread and plastic binding combs, HB pencil, 4” x 24.5”
Studio Art & Modern Chinese Language (Mandarin) and Culture,
Concordia University

Mementos and souvenirs of the past are objects of exploration in Annie Tong Zhou Lafrance’s Family Archives. The apparent banality of a bathroom wall being renovated is called into question by its reformation as a decorative artefact. The weaving technique, used to reconstruct the pieces of the old photos, is referential to Chinese calendars — connecting Lafrance’s grounding of herself in her Chinese and Canadian identity. Being adopted across the world and into a Western culture can leave great sentiments of displacement and loss. The transitory process of being adopted into Canada is mirrored in the transition of the old turquoise bathroom, as both processes alter, but can never erase, their past forms.

The bathroom’s renovation was stressful and exhausting for Lafrance’s family, but her artistic reconstruction of the pictures was meditative, showing the contrast and contradictions within the process of change. The original pictures of the turquoise wall seem unremarkable at first glance, but their generalized nature is what makes them universal. It is the photos themselves, more than their content, which we use as souvenirs of our past. By structuring the photos as a Chinese calendar, using an intensive and precise method of weaving slips of paper together, Lafrance grounds herself in her identity. Like pieces of a puzzle, the strips of photographs together assemble an image of wholeness. The preciousness of the photograph — and its weaved representation — is in its ability to capture a moment in Lafrance’s life, and echo the personal transformation undergone through the process of transcultural adoption.