Artist’s Talk: Laiwan


Laiwan is an artist, writer and educator recognized for her interdisciplinary practice based in poetics, improvisation and philosophy.

Born in Zimbabwe of Chinese parents, she immigrated to Canada in 1977 to leave the war in Rhodesia. She initiated the OR Gallery (1983) and the First Vancouver Lesbian Film Festival (1988). Recipient of the  Vancouver Queer Media Artist Award (2008) and of numerous arts awards over the years, Laiwan exhibits in group and solo shows, curates projects in Canada, the US, and Zimbabwe, publishes in a variety of anthologies and journals, and is an activist in queer and feminist community organizing.

Her cross-disciplinary projects investigate epistemology, technology and viral mobility such as with the interactive website “Call Numbers: The Library Recordings”, and, projects for “PDA for your PDA: Public Display of Affection for your Personal Digital Assistant” exploring the performativity of texts to build communal musicality, poetics and lyricism. She also premiered her performative rock band  “LaiwanKwanKage” (2011) with collaborators Vanessa Kwan and Eileen Kage to explore improvisation and somatic intelligence. Her work was featured in the Vancouver Art Gallery’s exhibitions How Soon Is Now:
Contemporary Art From Here (2009), Everything, Everyday (2010), and in c.1983 (2012) at Presentation House Gallery.

Laiwan teaches in the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts Program at Goddard College in Washington State, USA, and is current Chair of the Board of Directors at grunt gallery.

Her website is: