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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: Rachel Gorman

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). 

BIOGRAPHIES

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.

Livia Daza-Paris is a transdisciplinary artist who has worked with dance, performance, video, text and documentary evidence. She uses artistic processes within art-based research, disciplines of narrative inquiry and poetic interventions to address historical trauma. Daza-Paris’ works has been hosted by Project Anywhere (2015), Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, Hawick, Scotland (2015); Currents New Media Festival Santa Fe, New Mexico (2015); Museo de Arte Contemporneo de Caracas (2014); Alucine Latin film and New Media Festival, Toronto (2014); Festival International de Nouvelle Danse, Montreal (2003); du Maurier Theatre, Toronto (1998); Dance Theater Workshop, New York (1994). She is a certified teacher of Skinner Releasing Technique; a graduate of Concordia University (Montreal, Canada) and holds an MFA from Transart Institute in Creative Practice. Daza-Paris lives and works both in Caracas, Venezuela and Montreal, Canada.

Michael Greyeyes (Plains Cree) is a writer, actor, director and educator. Selected directing credits include: A Soldier’s Tale, from thine eyes (Signal Theatre), Pimooteewin (Soundstreams), Almighty Voice and his Wife (Native Earth Performing Arts), and Seven Seconds (2010 imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival). In 2010, he founded Signal Theatre, an Indigenous theatre company engaging in practiced-based research. Signal will premiere Bearing, a dance opera examining the legacy of Canada’s Indian residential school system this summer at Toronto’s Luminato Festival and tour with NYO Canada with The UnSilent Project, a celebration of the life and work of Blackfoot spoken word poet, Zaccheus Jackson.

John Halaka’s artwork and documentary projects address the forced displacement of the indigenous Palestinians, their persistent struggle to return to their native land, and the role of personal narratives as a tool for the survival of their history in the face of an ongoing cultural genocide. Halaka is Visual Artist and Professor of Visual Arts at the University of San Diego. He received his MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Houston in 1983, and his B.A. in Fine Arts from Brooklyn College in 1979. His artwork and documentary film projects can be seen at the following websites: www.johnhalaka.com, www.sittingcrowproductions.com.

Siamak Haseli is a Toronto-based multimedia artist and animator. He graduated from York University in 2005 with BFA and completed his MFA in multimedia installations from University of Windsor. His current body of artwork explores the integration of trauma and violence in war zones; focuses on the recent U.S led war in Iraq in 2003. He has been involved in the art community in various ways. He has been board member of several artists run centers and curator of “Points of View”, a monthly video/Documentary screening series at York University during 2004 and 2005.

Gita Hashemi’s transmedia practice encompasses works that draw on visual, media, performance, site specific and live art strategies. Exploring social relations and the interconnections of language and culture, Hashemi’s work is centered on marginalized histories and contemporary politics. She often uses the writing process as live performance and/or visual material in video, installation, image-text and net art production. Recurrent themes include decolonial acts and cultures of resistance, from 18th century East-West encounters and 1953 coup in Iran to the 1979 Revolution and Indigenous land rights in Palestine and Turtle Island. She is concerned with individual healing and social transformation, and her work often engages the viewers directly through interactive and participatory processes. She originated the maxim, the personal is poetic, the poetic is political, the political is personal.

Rachel Gorman is a performance artist working in dance theatre, video, and installation. Since receiving her PhD from the University of Toronto in 2005 with a dissertation on cultural production and class consciousness, Gorman has held a Lectureship at the Women and Gender Studies Institute of the University of Toronto; Research Fellowships at Manchester Metropolitan University and the University at Buffalo (SUNY); and a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship exploring disability politics of Kurdish national liberation struggles. In 2006, Gorman premiered The Ghost, a dance film about Kurdish political prisoners. The Globe and Mail’s Paula Citron called Gorman’s 2002 anti-war production Waking the Living compelling a disturbing and riveting reality check and described her 2004 production Passing Dark as a melancholy journey of intense sadness. Gorman created Transit, a gallery installation on mixed-race identity and political suspicion, in 2007; and combined performance and video to create Pass in 2009 and Fall in 2010.

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