Khadija Baker, Name/Trace, video, 2009-2010

Unravelling Empire

Khadija Baker

A Space Main Gallery

February 18 – March 16, 2011

Curated by: Rachel Gorman

Performance by the Artist on Friday February 18, 7-7:30pm
The exhibition is presented by A Space Gallery.
The performance is presented by A Space Gallery and FADO Performance Art Centre

Khadija Baker’s Toronto première solo exhibition lays bare emotional and embodied landscapes of empire, revealing rituals of memory and loss, and the intimacy of survival and resistance. Taking the evacuation and exile of the Kurds, and their erasure from the land as her point of departure, Baker’s installation Behind Walls weaves together clothing, rope, clay, light, and the voices of the displaced, and invites us to participate in the re-inscription of what has been lost. Baker’s new time-based, interactive work Home exposes the uncertainty of the exiled body as it becomes home to self, and to the future. The work assembles sculpture woven from the artist’s hair, and names etched in ink on ice. Lasting the time it takes for the ice to melt, Baker’s video series Name/Trace become a modality for grieving memory itself, in a dominant cultural landscape where only the deaths of the occupying troops are reported.


Khadija Baker is a multidisciplinary artist who combines video, textile, sound, and performance to explore political persecution, displacement and memory. Her intimate sculptural environments breach the divide between artist, art, and public, creating active spaces of participation, exchange, and storytelling. Baker has exhibited in cultural capitals such as Montreal, New York, London, Berlin, Marseille, Beirut and Damascus. Baker was awarded the Millennium Scholarship at Concordia University in 2005 and 2006, and the George Balcany Bursary for Painting and Drawing in 2007. In 2009, Baker received the Vivacity grant for culturally diverse artists from the Conseil des arts et des letters du Quebec, and a Videographe research and experimentation grant. Born in the Kurdish town of Amoude, Syria, Baker received her BFA and MA from the University of Damascus, before moving to Montreal 2001 and completing a BFA at Concordia University, where she is currently pursuing an MFA in Open Media.

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.