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Khadija Baker, I'm Still Alive, animation still, 2014

Grieving Empire

Khadija Baker, Livia Daza-Paris, Michael Greyeyes, John Halaka, Siamak Haseli, Gita Hashemi

Main Gallery

January 27 – March 18, 2017

Curated by:

Panel discussion March 4th, 2-4pm

Grieving Empire features six artists whose works reveal the violence of the settler colonial state, its imperialist adventures, and its proxy wars. The artists anchor their work in their bodies, on the land, and in unfolding transit and return. The works in this show reject aesthetics of postcolonial catharsis, in which we are asked to pity, and then purge our knowledge of, imperialism’s victims. Rather, these works animate aesthetics of revolutionary grieving, which demand that we “apprehend the policies creating unlivable, ungrievable conditions” (Byrd, 2011, 38). The works include animation for a child injured in the Syrian war created from the artist’s cut hair (Baker); dance and ritual on the land where the artist’s father was executed in 1960s Venezuela by state agents trained at the US School of the Americas (Daza-Paris); site-specific dance moving through the past and present terror of Canadian residential schools (Greyeyes); testimony of a Palestinian woman recounting the 1982 disappearance of her sons during the time of the Sabra and Shatila massacre (Halaka); a child’s nightmare of the Iraq war (Haseli); and postcards inscribing past and present exile sent from the artist’s journey along the Balkan refugee trail (Hashemi). 


Khadija Baker is a Montreal-based, multi-disciplinary artist of Kurdish-Syrian descent. Her installations investigate social and political themes centered on the uncertainty of home as it relates to persecution, identity, displacement, and memory. As a witness to traumatic events, unsettled feelings of home are a part of her experience. Her multi-disciplinary installations (textile, sculpture, audio/video) involve participative storytelling and performance to create active spaces of empathy and greater understanding. Her most recent work explores the social aspects of violence in the Arab world and specifically how it affects women and children. Baker immigrated to Canada in 2001 and completed an MFA in Open Media at Concordia University. She won several awards, namely from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des arts et des lettres of Quebec. Her work has been shown in Montreal, Toronto, New York, London, Berlin, Marseille, Beirut, Damascus and at the Biennale of Sydney in 2012.

Critical Art & Culture