Communal Poetry Machine

Allison Chow


Allison Chow’s shifting sculptures invite art viewers to become collaborators. By noticing the visual components of their environment, tuning in to recorded soundscapes, and connecting with their bodies in space, collaborators can construct visual poems that capture their somatic experience as they engage with place. Through the construction and deconstruction of Chow’s sculptures, and by adding their own marks to banners that act as evolving canvases, gallery visitors are encouraged to alter the art exhibition to express their own experience and, ultimately, create a “here and now” that reflects the shifting, complicated, and beautifully messy nature of community.

Communal Poetry Machine was conceptualized during Chow’s artist residency in North Vancouver’s Shipyards, when she began turning found objects into visual poems that expressed her somatic experience as a 3rd culture kid—in her case, a young immigrant from Hong Kong who grew up in Canada. This experience of feeling “neither here nor there” inspired Chow to create interactive pieces that empower gallery-goers to connect to the space they inhabit, here and now—here at the DLG, here in the natural environment of Deer Lake Park, here on a land altered by a dark history of colonization and whose occupants, sorting through the sticky mess of our different histories and needs and ways of communicating, form community.