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Beyond the Accident of Time

July 1, 2023 @ 7:30 pm

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beyond the accident of time

in memory of the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act in Canada

Chinese Gardens at the Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre
180 King Street

1 July 2023

and other outdoor pop-up locations:
June 30: 7pm at the Louis Riel Statue at the Legislature
July 1: 6:30pm at Stephen Juba Park

Performed by Angie Mojica, Anny Chen, Bailey Chin, Brady Barrientos, GiUng Lee, Johanna Hildebrand, John Hirst Anderson, Kris Cahatol, Matthew Knight, Queveen Arcedo, Xi Yin

Curated and directed by Sasha Amaya & Naomi Woo

Supported by the Winnipeg Arts Council


Leilehua Lanzilotti beyond the accident of time (2019)

Ashley Au Never Forget July 1st (2023)


100 years ago, on July 1, 1923, the Chinese Immigration Act or “Chinese Exclusion Act” was passed by the Canadian Government. Among other damaging consequences, the law greatly restricted Chinese immigration into Canada and divided hundreds of families. It was only repealed in 1947. During the 23 years the act was in place, Chinese communities in Canada referred to July 1 as “Humiliation Day”.

Winnipeg-based artist Ashley Au has been commissioned to create a new work of choral music to bring to life protest lyrics against the Act penned by an unknown author in 1923 and published in the Vancouver Baak Yeung Lau Bookstore. This archival material was recovered as part of The Paper Trail to the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act project. Our performance of the piece follows shortly in the footsteps of its world premiere in Ottawa on June 23 as part of the Senate of Canada’s National Remembrance Event.

That the act was passed on the anniversary of Canadian confederation—now commonly known as Canada Day, but previously known as Dominion Day—was not an accident, but part of the government’s pursuit of the White Canada policy. This fact resonates with more recent movements to expose the white supremacist underpinnings of the Canadian government by boycotting celebrations of Canada Day. Led by Indigenous groups, #CancelCanadaDay trended on social media after the discovery of thousands of unmarked graves at residential schools in 2021, and sparked widespread conversations about the genocide of Indigenous people undertaken by the Canadian government over the course of many decades.

We see these links as an opportunity for open conversation about the ongoing implications of colonisation and white supremacy in Canada, and our performance as an opportunity for solidarity and connection across communities.

The performance also features beyond the accident of time, a work for voices and bells, by Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) composer Leilehua Lanzilotti, which was originally written for the sculptor Isamu Noguchi’s Hiroshima memorial sculptures.

beyond the accident of time — percussion and voices (2019)

Commissioned by The Noguchi Museum, open duration

This work honors Isamu Noguchi’s never fully-realized Bell Tower for Hiroshima, 1950 (partially reconstructed 1986). The original bell used for the first movement is Noguchi’s Bell Image (1956–57). The original bells used in the last movement are custom-made oversized sleigh bells—Slay Bells by Adam Morford of Morfbeats—two 6”, two 5” and one 4” in diameter.

The premiere was part of a concert in celebration of the exhibition Changing and Unchanging Things: Noguchi and Hasegawa in Postwar Japan. As a whole, the works on the concert titled Changing and Unchanging Sound, considered being open or closed, amplifying the sentiment of Noguchi and Hasegawa’s conversations about cultural exchanges. In working through sonic and visual forms of how things break up and how they’re put back together, the works on the concert all explore questions about what it is to be human, living in uncertainty and growing after destruction. “Lanzilotti’s score brings us together across the world in remembrance, through the commitment of shared sonic gestures.” (Cities & Health)

This score was created for the premiere to give the performers specific guidelines for the bells chosen for this musical reconstruction. Noguchi imagined the bells for Bell Tower for Hiroshima coming from all over the world. In my piece, I interpret the sculpture not as a physical object that would be built in Hiroshima, but as a sonic concept that could be recreated by bells around the world. As we listen and recreate this space for reflection, we honor and remember what the sculpture represents. This score is only a starting point.

Never Forget July 1st / 毋忘七一 (2023)

commissioned for the Chinese Exclusion Act Centenary











[Published by Vancouver Baak Yeung Lau Bookstore]

The First of July is ahead

Hearts are filled with mortal dread

Born of a law that ignites a fire

A blade to those caught in its ire

How to begin to express the pain

43 clauses have left us slain

We will remember with all our might

Rid ourselves of this white-led blight

We will strive to remove the yolk

Righting the wrongs done upon our folk


July 1, 2023
7:30 pm CDT


Sasha Amaya & Naomi Woo


Chinese Gardens at the Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre
180 King Street
Winnipeg, MB R3B 3P7 Canada
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