Brandon Leung – Ryerson Thesis Winner for 2020

by Jim Wong-Chu courtesy of UBC Rare Books Library and B J Leung

Toronto. I was pleased to hear from our 2nd Vice-president, Ashley Cook at the AGM this month. Ashley co-ordinates the review and selection of the Ryerson Thesis winner each year. In spite of the radical changes in society invoked by COVID-19 rules, she was happy to announce the 2020 winner.

Ashley proudly announced. “The 2020 F+PPCM Thesis Prize winner is Brandon James Leung for his thesis: ‘Chinatown Forever Changing’: Jim Wong-Chu’s Pender East.’

The image at top left is called, ‘Jim Wong-Chu, [Chinese boy holding an umbrella], gelatin silver print, after 1970. University of British Columbia Library, rare Books and Special Collections, image courtesy of Brandon James Leung.’

The précis of the thesis from Ryerson’s School of Image Arts reads, “This thesis explores the historical context of late Asian Canadian artist and activist Jim Wong- Chu’s photographic and poetic album Pender East, which is held in the Jim Wong-Chu fonds, University of British Columbia Library Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC). I discuss the album in the context of Asian Canadian Cultural Activism of the 1970s, the same time period when the photographs within the album were taken, applying the movement’s relationship to community, history and cultural representation to my analysis. Viewing the photographs and poems through this lens reveals how the album visually represents Chinese Canadian identity through the photographs, poems and its structure. Additionally, as much of this information is not accessible from within the RBSC database, I outline how the relationship between the album and the knowledge surrounding it can be maintained through its catalogue record.”

A summary of the thesis will appear in a future copy of Photographic Canadiana and may be presented by Brandon in person or via ZOOM in a Toronto Monthly meeting at a later date.

Note: A minor amendment was made to the title and reference note of this post on August 4, 2021 following a request from a fellow PHSC member and close friend.

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