“Chinatown Vancouver Style
Preserved: the Essence of Immortality”

Natashia Turnquest

At a glance, the streets demarcated as “Chinatown” are mapped through a cornucopia of dietary delights. The aroma of perseveres, from candy to medicines, are a key facet to the palate of “culture” and “tradition.” Preserved looks at Salt, Sugar, and Soya- the apex of techniques rooted within ancient Chinese methods of dying produce, trade and legacy.

Model 1:
Preserved is a space activated through a collaborative community wall and floor mural. This mural project uses historic Chinese methods of printmaking to chart a scaled map of China, the Pacific and the Western coast of North and South America. The community is asked to piece together the distance, space and time, Chinatown functions to represent.

Model 2:
Through modular benches, decaled in information and text regarding the evolution of salt, sugar and soy, the viewers navigate and contemplate the space. Plastic bags with a teaspoon of salt and a soybean comprise the “land” of the floor portion of the mural. As viewers remove a tiny bag, Preserved souvenirs, offers the reveal of landmass in flux through migration and mediation.

The muted tones of the mural, modular wall paneling, and benches emphasize re-use and re-contextualizing as key to community practices. The tiny packages of soybeans, salt and sugar isolated in plastic- thus removed from the space, complement the immersive installation of print media utilized to comprise the mural.

Image 1:

Salting both sterilizes and dehydrates food to allow for a prolonged shelf life. Salt was once considered so valuable it was traded ounce for ounce for gold. Thus, in ancient China, coins were made of salt. As viewers walk though this space trade East to West meet, a place to consider one another.

Image 2:
Legend tells of soy bean based Tofu originating in ancient China around 164 BC. This famed food meaning, “bean curd,” developed through processes of preserving prior to refrigerators. Two types of coagulants, salts and acids, are widely used. Viewers are welcomed to contemplate on benched covered in text and take a small bag of salt and a soybean.