June 2-30, 2022. Gallery hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 12-5 pm
Bachir/Yerex Presentation Space, 4th floor, 401 Richmond St. W.
Artists in the exhibition: Mona Hatoum; Akram Zaatari; Nahed Mansour; Atefeh Khademolreza; Parastoo Anoushahpour & Faraz Anoushahpour; Rehab Nazzal; and Walid Ra’ad. Amin Alseden’s complete essay is available here.
We are honoured to co-present this curated exhibition by the scholar Amin Alsaden with the Images Festival, who also sponsor the opening evening panel featuring the curator and two of the artists in the exhibition, Nahed Mansour and Atefeh Khademolreza. We have been very impressed with Amin’s curatorial process as he scoured the Vtape holdings looking for works that spoke to his idea of exile. The works he has selected span almost four decades, from 1988 to 2018, and are all from artists whose origins are in the Middle East, which he, quite correctly, refers to as Southwest Asia.
He has written of his selection: “This exhibition brings together artists whose works navigate the purgatory of exile. They explore the complexities and contradictions inherent in the experience of displaced communities, caught in between an incessant longing for homes left behind, and an inability to belong to new, presumably safer, environments. Mona Hatoum, Akram Zaatari, Nahed Mansour, Atefeh Khademolreza, Parastoo Anoushapour and Faraz Anoushapour, Rehab Nazzal, and Walid Ra’ad capture the disturbing sense of alienation and the deep melancholia that emerges in the wake of losing one’s home, along with the certainty, familiarity, stability, security, and warmth that home represents.
“The exhibition borrows works from the Vtape catalogue that reveal what might have withdrawn from collective consciousness, especially the compounded sorrows endured by members of diasporic communities. Most people struggled with being trapped at home during the pandemic, yearning to head back into public space, to return to some sense of normalcy. Others were also trapped, but for them, home was not home. For the displaced, the pandemic only exacerbated an existing situation, which will likely last well into the future. For the displaced—especially immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers—home is exile.
“The selected works raise a number of questions: Can the experiences of these communities, for whom the pandemic is yet another tragedy, be accounted for, and perhaps centred? Can the eagerly anticipated post-pandemic moment be taken as an opportunity to ponder how loneliness is itself an epidemic that has taken over the world, and to remember those who were already isolated, and who continue to silently bear the agonies of displacement, privately grappling with feelings of not belonging? How is the construct of ‘home’ imagined, especially by those whose relationship to ancestral homelands has been violently severed? Why does home remain such an elusive place for the exiled?
“Exploring how artists employ video, a time-based medium, to convey the durational longing to belong, the exhibition contemplates the very basic notion of home, of being home—taken for granted by some, desired by most, yet unattainable by many. It tells an incomplete and ever-evolving story about the woes of displacement, from isolation to disillusionment, from outrage to helplessness, and from recollections to imagination. It equally underlines the agency of those who go through the experience of losing a home, and the vital role that artists play in shedding light on the paradoxical logics of statehood, borders, and militarization, which produce the conditions of displacement and exile in the first place.
“These artists’ powerful works counter the marginalization of displaced communities while unveiling the perils of alienation, of never belonging. Their works suggest that a disaster might not only be a major catastrophic event like a pandemic—but it might manifest itself in our collective apathy and oblivion to the suffering of those who live in our midst.”
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Amin Alsaden is a curator, educator, and scholar of modern and contemporary art and architecture, whose work focuses on transnational solidarities and exchanges across cultural boundaries.
Please note that for now we are still only allowing 6 visitors to enter the gallery at a time. No pre-booking is required.
While masks are no longer required, we do kindly request that visitors wear masks for our collective safety and well-being.
We also ask that all visitors:
- Self-assess before coming to the gallery
- Postpone your visit if you are not feeling well
- Use hand sanitizer upon entering the gallery
- Maintain physical distancing within the gallery
- Sign in at the desk before entering the gallery
- Follow staff recommendations
co-presented with the Images Festival
Image credit: Pictures of Departure (Parastoo Anoushahpour & Faraz Anoushahpour, 2018)