Reviewed by Allyson Aritcheta
Featured Image courtesy of Polina Teif

Reflective, red irises bloom from a single paper cactus surrounded by overgrown colourful foliage. A Window Space exhibition at the Xpace Cultural Centre, “The Aberrant” is paper artist Cat Lamora’s three-dimensional intimation on what it means to be a gyopo, or Korean, who has been a citizen in another country for over a decade.

Searching for yourself in a place that denies your identity makes for a prickly existence in Lamora’s piece on the Korean immigrant experience in Canada. The cactus at the center of the paper installation gives off vibes of despair and solitude, its eyes searching for something familiar in a cultural landscape that looks nothing like it. If you look closely at its irises, you will see that they mirror their environment. Despite being overwhelmed by leaves that bear no resemblance to a cactus, this sole many-eyed succulent mimics aspects of its new country while maintaining loneliness. Determined to thrive in a foreign space, the cactus builds defenses such as spines and tough skin, holding firmly to its culture. This take on growing between cultures as a gyopo—wanting to keep your culture while also wanting to adapt to another, and experiencing the backlash of doing both—is excellently crafted through the image of a tough, resilient, and bitter green being, forever searching for oneself and others with similar experiences.

This vivid window exhibition takes the experience of being uprooted from one culture and living in another and creates a cultural story of one’s own. Being a gyopo means experiencing a constant struggle of identity between cultures, but it also means experiencing the growth of an entirely different cultural identity; a unique experience of living. Pain, longing, and steadfastness give way to a new existence over time in “The Aberrant”.

See “The Aberrant” at the Xpace Cultural Centre (as a Window Space exhibition) from Jan. 18 – Feb. 23, 2019

“The Aberrant” is also a participating window installation at Design TO Festival 2019

Image Courtesy of Polina Teif


Image Courtesy of Mirae Lee

Allyson Aritcheta is a Toronto-based freelance journalist and reviewer whose writing has appeared in This Magazine, Xtra, and From the Root. She has a graduate certificate in publishing from Centennial College and Bachelor of Arts from Ryerson University, where she majored in psychology and minored in English. Allyson is a co-owner of creative studio Barkada Freelance. She can be found on twitter @allaritcheta.