Text and Photo by: Imu Chan
Close to the end of the inauguration ceremony for the Sukkot Festival 2017, following the speeches delivered by the First Nations and community representatives, Michael Schwartz from the Jewish Museum & Archives BC asked me to say a few words about the pavilion we’d created for the event. By then the sun had finally broken through the persistent rain. Overwhelmed with joy and relief, I uttered a few inconsequential remarks. The following is more or less what I can remember.
We are grateful of the opportunity to be part of the sukkot celebration. The experience has been both rewarding and humbling. Rewarding because of the tremendous we have learned and experienced throughout the design process. Humbling because we can be part of this larger vision created by the Grandview Woodland Food Connection, Britannia, and the Jewish Museum & Archives of building friendship and community, within which we hope what we have created can make a small difference.
Early on in the design process, we were intrigued by the concept that a sukkah roof is protective yet fragile, that true protection may not necessarily depend on the material world, and that in time of fragility it is also time to deepen our faiths and our connection with others. We name our design "eyepiece", which is the lens we rest our eyes on viewing through an optical instrument, whether the instrument is a wide-angle camera or a microscope. We hope our design offers a dual reference to look broader at the world around us as well as to examine deeper into ourselves, our faiths and the meanings of our existence.
Alek and I often say that we have created a portable natural history museum, that is 100% biodegradable, so eventually everything will return to the earth. The triangular lenses are made of bio-plastics, prepared with kosher gelatin. There are twenty-one indigenous plant species encased in these lenses, all of which form part of Coast Salish Peoples diet or for other traditional uses. The best way to experience eyepiece is to lie down on the ground and look up, although I would suggest doing it during good weather when the ground is dry.