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Yutong lin family antenna
Family portrait. Photo: Yutong Lin

FatherDaughter — Words I have yet to say to my dad

  • Essay
  • PHI Foundation
By  Yutong Lin

The following text is a personal essay by Yutong Lin, former team member of the PHI Foundation, in response to the performance FatherDaughter by artist Florencia Sosa Rey and her father Hector Sosa. 

The event was curated by Victoria Carrasco, Adjunct Curator – Public Programs, and was organized alongside the exhibition Yayoi Kusama: DANCING LIGHTS THAT FLEW UP TO THE UNIVERSE, presented at the PHI Foundation from July 6, 2022 to January 15, 2023.

The original Chinese version of Lin’s text was published on their Instagram page and is available below.

I forgot how long it has been since the last time I wrote. I thought the emotions that had solidified over the winter wouldn’t catch up with the summer tempo, where I see my feelings fall away behind me in the breeze on my bike. When it begins to rain more and get colder, thoughts come slowly back from when I first came to Montréal last year. I was nervous, like a timid mouse, very much lost in the French-ness. For me, French is yet another foreign culture within a place that is already foreign. Forever, an outsider.

How time flies here. The swiss cheese plant I bought last fall grew too big to fit into the small pot. I had to cut parts off and put them into a water bottle. The roots grew out in the water. I felt like the plant, slowly growing my roots in the water, wishing to ground myself, but I know it is still water with nothing solid. 


The wind today feels like autumn. I am trying not to think about the fact that winter is approaching. With the friends I made this summer, we went to see FatherDaughter. It is a performance by Florencia and her father Hector. On the playground in front of UdeM, Hector and Florencia were running, walking, circling, lap after lap, always meeting and separating. One of them is the minute hand and the other is the second hand—days and days away from Argentina, how many harsh winters have we survived? Muscles sculpted on the body are resistant to the loss of androgens over time. The father grows into a child.

Fatherdaughter documentoriginal
FatherDaughter, 2022
Florencia Sosa Rey and Hector Sosa
Performance at the MIL Campus
Photo: Document Original

In the pink clouds, airplanes and trains go by. Florencia looks back at Hector, like my dad and I when we fly kites at the park during the Spring Festival in my hometown of Kunming, China. The two of us are running and running. I look back into my dad’s eyes. He is not as athletic as I remembered. The wind is too strong, and the kite cannot fly high. So we keep running and running, hoping that the kite will catch the wind. My dad was such a good kite flyer when he was young. The other day he called me saying his feet hurt, and that he had inflammation, which may be a precursor to gout. I looked at his feet wrapped in gauze on my phone screen. Ice melted.

Don’t we also just keep running and running? Always running away from moments of eye contact, (dis)belief, guilt, fear, empathy, piety, farewells, authority, masculinity, success, pride, tears, care, and anger… All the subtlety and violence of emotions take shape in the form of high blood pressure, diabetes, gout, sweets, and the food he loves and cooks. Between you and I, there is a layer of worries. We are forever separated by the phone screen. He knows what I mean, but he never says it.

I listened to Eason Chan’s classic song, “Bicycle.” He sings, “Don’t, don’t assume that I know, everything. Everything you have done is for me, why can’t I feel it?”

I got the courage and sent it to you, dad, saying that this song feels like it’s about you and me, and you said, “Good to hear! Thinking of your childhood, thank you.”

When will I ever go back home to you?

Suddenly, I saw a little spider scurry away and disappear into the grass.

The performance was over. Florencia hugged her dad and the crowd applauded. It was chilly, so I decided to go home and have a bowl of hot beef soup, a kind of Yunnan food that reminds me of home.

Missing dad, and mom, missing home.

Yutong lin family
Family portrait. Photo: Yutong Lin












This article was written as part of Platform. Platform is an initiative created and driven jointly by the PHI Foundation’s education, curatorial and Visitor Experience teams. Through varied research, creation and mediation activities in which they are invited to explore their own voices and interests, Platform fosters exchanges while acknowledging the Visitor Experience team members’ expertise.

Yutong Lin

Yutong Lin is a writer and image maker from Lijiang, Yunnan, China. As a Nakhi descendant, their research concerns the making of memories and Indigenous/nomadic cosmologies in the Himalayas (Zomia) through community media and archiving practice. After drifting to Montreal in 2021, they also care about the queer experiences of the Sinophone diaspora. They are also a member of the artist and research collective NDoI (the Nomadic Department of the Interior), together, it is a project investigating the process and affordance of reshaping land and narratives of violence in the form of oral history.



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