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New Cultural Topographics
Morris Lum

Art Gallery of Mississauga, 2012

A distinguishing aspect of Lum’s voice is the attention paid to the liminality of suburban space. Yes, this is an exploitation of the suburban terrain, and we are asked to assess the order, value, and even beauty of these conformed landscapes. George W.S. Trow would locate these spaces “Within the Context of No Context,” and Rem Koolhaas would apply to them the term “Junkspace.” Lum is critical of, yet glorifies, this built aesthetic. The handsome images clearly have a visual force and intellectual rigour that command attention and consideration.

Does focusing upon the New Canadian landscape of the Chinese community blur the boundary between what is “Canadian” and what is “New”? The work creates a new understanding of decentralized social spaces to provoke thought about the future of the edge city as a post-suburban condition. Lum also demonstrates that an emotional bond or exploration of the familiar is crucial to understanding a place. Philosopher Yi-Fu Tuan suggests that the built world should strengthen our memories, enhance the self, and provide layers of meaning to a space. When the silence is framed, a tension between the ordinary and the extraordinary is exposed. Lum explores beyond the commonly debated and presented suburban themes of diversity and identity.