Fold Unfold


Kira Wu 

Paul Wong 

Exhibition Dates: 
April 2020

In Chinese culture, we find the common belief in luck and fortune. For instance, friends and family members give money inside red envelopes (lai see) to children at Chinese New Year—giving and receiving lai see signifies good luck for all. Working through these beliefs, Kira Wu explores questions surrounding her diagnosis of stage 3 breast cancer. Why did I get cancer? What caused it? Why am I so unlucky, so unfortunate? In these photographs, Wu brings us in the state of unknowing, of asking questions with no answers.

This work returns to familiar games of luck and chance, in constructed and photographed origami fortune tellers. Paper found in doctor’s offices, in waiting rooms, or lobbies of hospitals, are transformed in a symbolic gesture. On average, Wu folded one origami fortune teller every day for 365 days. Multiple origami pieces were constructed through the repetition of folding, bending, and shaping fragile two-dimensional pieces of paper into solid three-dimensional forms.  Enfolded in them are thoughts of acceptance, fragility, the body, and resilience.

In Fold Unfold, Wu transforms materials of children’s games, red money envelopes, cancer clinic pamphlets, and fashion magazine pages into intimate, still, and contemplative images. As large-scale photographs and video projections, Wu brings the artwork out of its familiar, playful place, and gives it a new context and agency in the On Main Gallery space. These visceral images become gifts, quietly drawing us into a narrative of perseverance and the importance of believing in luck.

For more images of Wu’s Fortune Teller visit