Serena Lee: Playing the Mountain

Serena Lee: Playing the Mountain. Courtesy of the Artist.

Centre[3] for Artistic + Social Practice and Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival Co-Present

Serena Lee: Playing the Mountain

Curated by Lesley Loksi Chan

Exhibition: August 26 – October 8, 2022
Opening Reception: Friday, September 9th, 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Some lines are visible, some are not.

Playing the Mountain is a constellation that considers balance in different forms – not as a state of equilibrium to be achieved, but as an ongoing interplay of contrasting forces. In this solo exhibition, Serena Lee explores balance through various aesthetic forms – in the graphic composition and embodied practice of Chinese writing; in the soft resistance between kite, gravity, air; and between still mountain and running water, a model of balance for the dynamics of force in 太極拳 taijiquan internal martial arts and 山水 shanshui landscape painting.

Some lines are stretched thin, some are curved and enveloping.

Inspired by the movement and pace of 天坑 tiankeng (celestial pit) – sinkhole forests in southern China formed as karst mountains are slowly hollowed by underground rivers and gradually sink into themselves – Serena draws on shared histories that cross temporal and geographical zones, piecing together a continuity of aesthetic practices by gathering fragments into a harmonic polyphony.

Some lines follow, some lines lead.

Adapting and negotiating between opposing forces, Serena explores balance as a political and ideological process, rather than a position. Playing the Mountain traces a practical understanding of ‘aesthetics’ by following 心 xin (heart mind) and side-stepping the Cartesian mind-body separation: ‘aesthetics’ as making sense of the world, and our place in it, through embodied knowledge. Through this gathering of embodied practices and moving parts learned in broken translation, Playing the Mountain teases out connections between art and utility, play and work, dynamic and still, control and letting go.

Writing in the air
A workshop with Serena Lee and Fan Wu
Date: Saturday, September 17, 2022
Time: 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Location: Centre[3] Main Gallery, 173 James Street North, Hamilton, Ontario, L8R 2K9

At 公公’s kitchen table, there were always scraps of paper ready to be written on. We keep writing in order to know, to remember. What if you forget a word: how it looks or how it sounds? How do we read and write between Chinese writing and with the alphabet? This is an undisciplined writing workshop where we will play with Chinese characters to make connections between art, usefulness, and memory. We will experiment with different materials and techniques, and explore where words come from, how we learn and use them where we are now. Connecting Chinese writing to the shapes of kites and martial arts, we will play with forms of balance as “moving in-between.”

This workshop is free, for all ages, and geared to students of the Hamilton Chinese School, however, public inquiries for participation are welcome:

About the Artist

Serena Lee works with polyphony as a way of mapping how things come together and apart. She plays with movement, language, cinema, textures, space, and voice, tracing embodied knowledge through aesthetic, martial, and sonic practices. Born and raised in tkaronto/Toronto, Serena is currently based in Vienna, doing practice-based PhD research through the Akademie der bildenden künste Wien. Serena holds an MFA from the Piet Zwart Institute (NL), and an Associate Diploma in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music (CA); she collaborates and practices close to home and internationally.

About the Workshop Co-facilitator

Fan Wu is caught between the blue of noon and the blue of bruise. His current life project looks at how Zhuangzi and Bataille subvert the foundational ideologies of post-Christological capitalism, the former from without, the latter from within. Send him correspondences of any sort at

About the Curator

Lesley Loksi Chan is a multidisciplinary artist and the artistic director of Centre[3] for Artistic and Social Practice. Her work has been exhibited internationally including at the Images Festival (Toronto), Vancouver International Film Festival, Festival International of Films on Art (Montreal), the British Film Institute (London, UK), Museo de Cine Autobiográfico (Vigo, Spain) and Anthology Film Archives (NYC). As artistic director of Centre[3], she oversees exhibitions, residencies and arts-based projects with a focus on experimental, collaborative, and anti-oppressive practices.

Centre[3] for Artistic + Social Practice
173 James Street North
Hamilton, Ontario
L8R 2K9
Instagram: @centre3_
Facebook: @centre3
Twitter: @centre3

Media Contact: Jeff Chow at

Land Acknowledgement: Centre[3] for Artistic + Social Practice acknowledges that its organization, located in Hamilton, is on the traditional territories of the Erie, Neutral, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Haudenosaunee nations whose presence here reaches back to time immemorial. Centre[3] recognizes the historical oppression of Indigenous peoples, cultures and lands in what is now known as Canada and is committed to healing and decolonizing together through the arts.

Accessibility: Our 173 James North location is partially physically accessible. We have a level entrance leading to our galleries, shop, information desk, washroom and traditional print studio. Unfortunately, we do not have automatic doors or an elevator. We are working toward becoming a physically accessible space in the future.

This exhibition and workshop are co-presented by Centre[3] for Artistic + Social Practice and the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, and generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Hamilton, and the Hamilton Chinese School.