Keywords Laboratory: Echo Wall in Markham by Xu Tan

Sep 20, 2013 - Oct 13, 2013 @ Markham Museum, 9350 Hwy. 48 (Markham Rd.) Markham, ON
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Echo Wall in Markham is the most recent instance of Chinese artist Xu Tan’s ongoing research project Keywords Laboratory. Its realization in Markham encompasses an echo wall structure built along the mini train track on the site of Markham Museum, musical performances by local Chinese mom and pop band The Couples and high school students, as well as storytelling, live discussions and workshops by facilitation specialist, city councilor, story teller, local residents, and more.

An echo is a reflection of sound produced by its travel in private and public spaces. It reminds us how spacial and temporal conditions alter our speech and language. Echo wall in Markham is a virtual space for experiments. It simulates the operation of language in our society and individual consciousness, and observes how language happens, transforms, communicates and reaches its meaning.


Laboratory Activity Schedule:

September 21, 2:30-3:30 PM
Past Echo, Storytelling by Bernice Hune

Born in Toronto, Bernice heard songs and stories in Cantonese that created a magical world of rich traditions – elders sharing ancient folk tales as well as personal stories about the railway, the head tax, and the struggle for the rights of full citizenship.
At Echo Wall, Bernice will share the following stories: A Mouse Speaks, Ghost Train, Leung, and Mr. Yip’s Laundry.

September 21, 5:30-7:00 PM
Musical performance by mom and pop band The Couples

The Couples is a Markham local mom and pop band. Its member consists four couples immigrated from Hong Kong and Macau.

September 22, 3:00-5:00 PM
Workshop Echo Genesis by Bill Staples

Voice, echo and amplification are rediscovered in this highly participatory workshop on Xu Tan's Echo Wall using core facilitation and communication theory and method.
Bill Staples is the publishing editor of Group Facilitation: A Reseach and Applications Journal of the international Association of Facilitators (IAF), the trustee of the Institute of Cultural Affairs: International (ICA:I), and a professional facilitator with clients across Canada. Bill is a principal of ICA Associates Inc. and is a leading trainers of consultants and facilitators around the world.

September 22, 5:00-7:00 PM
Xu Tan in conversation with Markham Ward 6 Councilor Alan Ho

October 4, 7:00-9:00 PM
Musical performance by mom and pop band The Couples

The Couples is a Markham local mom and pop band. Its member consists four couples immigrated from Hong Kong and Macau.


Born in Wuhan, Hubei Province in 1957, Xu Tan’s work has been shown around the world including at P.S.1 in New York, the Venice and Berlin Bienniales, the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Brisbane, the Guangzhou Triennial, and De Appel in Amsterdam, among many others. In the early 1990s, he developed critical strategies for negotiating the rapidly changing economic and cultural life in China as a member of the Guangzhou collective Big Tail Elephant Group. Xu Tan has been searching for keywords in cities all over the world, including New York, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Stockholm, and Venice.


Keywords Laboratory: Echo Wall in Markham by Xu Tan is one of Gendai's recent adventures at Land|Slide: Possible Futures. In collaboration with Land|Slide: Possible Futures and the Chinese community in Markham, Gendai produced a new instalment of its on-going mobile project Vectors: Connections and Interventions. This new instalment includes commissioned works by Hong Kong based artist collective L+ and Chinese artist Xu Tan. Its format encompasses artist research residencies, installations, performance, social interventions, and relational workshops.


Land|Slide Possible Futures is a contemporary public art exhibition which responds to a world in transition where the past, present and future collide. The landscape of Markham, Ontario will be transformed by the work of over 30 national and international artists to explore themes of architecture, urban ecology and living history.

The site-specific artist projects are housed at the 25-acre, open-air Markham Museum from September 21 to October 14, 2013. Land|Slide brings artists, urban planners, ecologists, educators, civic leaders and the general public together in a unique community engagement initiative that pays homage to the past and imagines possible futures.

Working in a wide range of media – from film, sculpture, installation, and performance to digitized diaries, 3D projections, and augmented reality – the invited artists have been commissioned to reinterpret the site and draw out new histories and futures for a world in dramatic transition.

More on Land|Slide Possible Futures can be found at

The downtown presentation of the project is generously supported by the Toronto Arts Council.

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