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Lap-See Lam: Dreamers' Quay

Thursday, August 10, 2023Monday, February 5, 2024

Lap-See Lam, Dreamers’ Quay, installation view Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm, 2022. Photo: Bonniers Konsthall (Jean-Baptiste Béranger)

Ronnen Glass Box Theater
Jeffrey E. Gundlach Building

Inaugurating the Buffalo AKG’s new Ronnen Glass Box Theater, Lap-See Lam: Dreamers’ Quay welcomes visitors into a 360-degree immersive moving-image shadow play. Over five acts, we follow the young girl A’Yan, who enters a mirror in her mother’s Chinese restaurant and moves through a dream world across centuries and between different mediated images of China.  

Through her large-scale projection-based animations, film, virtual reality, and sculptural work  Lap-See Lam (Swedish, born 1990) considers how myths, popular culture, and fiction can both define and alter perceptions of identity and belonging. At the center of Lam’s artistic practice is her interest in the Chinese restaurant as a dream space, frozen in time, with interiors rooted in fantasies of the great emperors and the Qing dynasty. It is also a space with its own distinct history as an image of the East that developed in the Western world. Lam’s work considers this space’s double nature as both a fantasy and real place with personal and private stories that connect to the Cantonese diaspora today.

Dreamers’ Quay, 2022 engages with universal questions defining the immigrant experience. Like the Chinese restaurant, Chinese shadow puppetry arrived in the West through the sea trade and migration from the East. In Dreamers’ Quay, Lam makes use of its storytelling potential to weave together perceptions of the Hong Kong-Chinese diaspora across the world and address the translation—and mistranslation—of cultural heritage. The work considers the history and ambiguous connotations of chinoiserie, or the European imitation of Chinese artistic traditions, in addition to Chinese immigration to Sweden, and Lam’s own family history. Such imagery, Lam’s work shows, is one way to create a sense that a people is other, or exotic. Lam takes the viewer through the ways this translated and retranslated imagery is again taken up by the people of the diaspora themselves, to both affirm and redefine their own identity.

Dreamer’s Quay addresses the fact that Western representations of East Asia often say more about the West than they do about the East: from the kitschy decor of the Chinese restaurant to the cultural stereotypes of the Chinese dynasties perpetuated through shadow plays and the manipulation of Chinese decorative arts and architecture. These form a visual vocabulary for what is implicit in the ongoing processes of othering and self-exoticizing that continue to shape a Western image of the East. 

This exhibition is organized by Curator-at-Large & Curator, Nordic Art and Culture Initiative Helga Christoffersen.

About the Artist

Lap-See Lam is an installation artist who lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden. Her work examines issues of identity and cultural constructs through an exploration of the Chinese diaspora in Sweden. Lam frequently draws on her family’s history, such as their experience as restaurant owners in Stockholm. She uses technologies such as virtual reality and 3D scanning to create her immersive installation works.


Lap-See Lam: Dreamers' Quay is made possible through the generosity of Catherine and Stephen Foley, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Symphony Real Estate LLC, and the Viet-Jacobsen Family.

 Symphony Real Estate logo with a blue background and the font in beige with an S to the left that is in two shades of beige/ cream and mimics two brush strokes next to the Highmark blue cross blue shield logo in black and blue fonts 

Installation and technical services are generously supported by Advantage Technology Integration.

ATI logo of a stick figure in a chat box symbol with ATI next to it


The Buffalo AKG’s exhibition program is generously supported by The Seymour H. Knox Foundation, Inc.