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Ghostline Ad




Teresa Tam and Annie Wong’s artistic collaboration focuses on the feeling of Chinatown being haunted by the past and future threat of the neighborhood’s displacement, but also by comforting spirits that have made Chinatown a safe home for many Asian communities.  


Our collaboration involves two projects: The Ghostline podcast and the Ghostline ad.


The ad, located on the SE corner of Centre St and 4 Ave S, sits right at the edge of Chinatown’s official, designated boundary— however this isn’t the first Chinatown in Calgary. In English, the text reads “chinatown used to exist beyond this point” referring to the way the neighbourhood was slowly eaten away by property and land purchases throughout its 110 years of history. As this ad is facing towards Chinatown, it’s a message and a reminder for English-speakers leaving the area.⁠⁠


In Chinese, the text reads: “You are now exiting Chinatown, please be careful of ghost people/foreigners/westerners.”  The text evokes the distinct feeling of leaving Chinatown for those who seek safety by being among their community in the neighborhood. The Chinese text speaks in a furtive and paternal tone that is to be read as an intimate farewell. A phrase spoken among close kin and friends, the text is about loss as much as safety and care, feelings that are interconnected for those who live in/love Chinatown.  


The dual languages are not intended to be direct translations but instead speak to two audiences and their distinct experiences of Chinatown. These experiences are not translatable. The Chinese text speaks directly to the reader with a shared understanding that Chinatown is the psychological and physical landscape of our cultural identity.  It is the centre of life for many.  As a diasporic community, there is no other place in a Canadian city where a Chinese person can go to be seen as an individual enjoying our culture. Only upon leaving the neighborhood, is there a  danger of losing our individuality when having to navigate Western society. The feeling is ever more relevant in the resurgent wave of anti-Asian hate and white supremacist violence.


Tam and Wong playfully negotiate their identities as predominantly English speakers from the Cantonese diaspora. As jook sing muis, the ad reflects the artists’ experience of safety, danger, foreignness, and racism, when moving in and out of Chinatown that is equally felt when moving between the Chinese and English languages. The act of translation always fails to accurately reflect the duality of diasporic identity. This ad does not seek to translate one message from one language to the next, but rather to reflect the complex identities embodied by the Chinese diaspora.  



Traditional Chinese:




Teresa Tam 和 Annie Wong 的藝術合作專註於唐人街被社區流離失所的過去和未來威脅所困擾的感覺,但唐人街作為一種精神慰藉讓它成為許多亞洲社區的安全家園。




這則廣告位於中央街和第4大道的東南角,正好位於唐人街官方指定邊界的邊緣——但這並不是卡爾加裏的第一個唐人街。英文文本 “chinatown used to exist beyond this point”,指的是唐人街在其 110 年的歷史中,被房地產和土地購買慢慢侵蝕。由於這廣告面向唐人街,它是對離開該地區的講英語的人的一個信息和提醒。⁠⁠


中文文本 “你現在正離開唐人街,請小心鬼/外國人/西方人”。 這段文字喚起了那些在唐人街社區中尋求安全的人對離開唐人街的明顯感覺。中文文本以一種鬼祟的父輩語氣在說話,也可以理解為一種親密的告別。這句話會是在親近的親戚和朋友之間傳達,既表達了關愛,對失去與安全的考慮,而對於那些生活在與熱愛唐人街的人來說,這些感覺是相互關聯的。 


廣告牌中的兩種語言並不是為了直接翻譯,而是針對兩個不同受眾和他們對唐人街的不同體驗的表達。這些體驗是無法用語言翻譯出來的。中文文本直接向讀者講述了一個共同的心聲:唐人街是我們文化身份的心理和物理體現。 它是許多人的生活中心。 作為一個散居社區,加拿大的城市裏沒有其他地方可以讓中國人作為個體更好地去享受我們的文化。在離開這個社區後,當我們不得不在西方社會中遊走時,會有失去個性的風險。在反亞裔仇恨和白人至上主義的暴力浪潮中,這種感覺變得更有價值。





Ghostline ad at the SE corner of Centre St and 4 Ave

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