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Events

Exhibit: CounterMemories

Fri, November 8, 2013 6:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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November 8, 6-9 pm Reception with Artists' Talks and Performance

Counter Memories highlights the work of Montreal based artists Khadija Baker and Mona Sharma, of Kurdish Syrian and South Asian descent respectively. Each from her distinct perspective raises issues about current conflicts, displacement, and memories of marginalized voices. For the exhibition, Baker has created an installation and performance dealing with the ongoing Syrian civil war. For her ongoing series of projected digital drawings, Sharma uses narrative to examine various historical and cultural contexts where the definition of justice has been stretched to interesting if not inexplicable lengths. In unique ways, these two artists and friends use their talent and capacity for empathy to imagine aesthetically, name and challenge, sometimes through metaphor and sometimes literally. Whether we accept the call to action or not is up to each of us, but either way we are different for experiencing the world through their eyes.

About the Artists:

Khadija Baker is a multidisciplinary artist who creates installations that combine video, performance, sculpture, textile and sound. Her work explores social and political themes related to persecution, displacement and memory. Baker, who is Kurdish, immigrated to Canada from Syria in 2001, most recently completing her MFA studies at Concordia University. She has received numerous awards from organizations such as the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des arts et des letters du Québec. Her work has been exhibited in Montreal, Toronto, New York, London, Berlin, Marseille, Beirut, Damascus and the 2012 Sydney Biennale.

For the exhibition, Baker revisits an installation she had originally created in 2008 titled Coffin Nest in response to the discovery and exhumation of mass graves in Iraq, where the only way victims could be identified was through their clothing. In that original piece, the artist wove donated clothing into rope used to make a ‘coffin’, which was the centerpiece of the work. As viewers interacted with the art, they told Baker stories of their losses and in return she related stories of her own and those passed on by other viewers. A new incarnation of the piece called I Will Talk to You Silently Today addresses the current rising death toll of the civil war in Baker’s homeland of Syria. By performing the ritual in our presence, she makes us one with the victims thereby rendering the tragedy our own – which it is. However particular the ritual, her art nevertheless transcends site-specificity reminding us of other massacres and burials such as in the Balkans, Guatemala, Rwanda and countless other places.

Mona Sharma is a first-generation Canadian artist of South Asian descent. She obtained her MFA from Concordia University, Montreal in 2012. She has received numerous grants and has exhibited her art in galleries across Canada. Following this show, her work will be exhibited in New York City at the Queens Museum of Art in December 2013. She works primarily in soft sculpture and digital drawing, two mediums whose accessible exteriors lend well to subversive acts. Directly inspired by tensions induced by the diverse nature of her background, her goal through art has been to foster a more critical understanding of how we form as individuals and function as a society.

Sharma’s ongoing series of large-scale projected digital drawings titled Justice Takes a Holiday switches to a macro lens in examining what justice has the potential to mean to human beings. These highly political drawings juxtapose various current and historical events raising issues of injustice and questioning society’s reluctance to question the ‘Truths’ we are told. Sharma’s art demands that we confront the issues and react - without even realizing it, we are interacting with the art. In fact, the viewer becomes part of the picture and no longer a bystander when we are compelled to imitate actions within the drawings and most insidiously when the projection is on us changing our role from witness to protagonist. She gives us a choice – to engage in the world or get out of the frame.

November 8, 6-9 pm Reception with Artist talk and Performance

November 6, 5-7 pm gallery open to the public

November 7, 1-6 pm gallery open to the public

November 9, 11 am-3 pm gallery open to the public

Artists' Talks Schedule <http://johnjayresearch.org/cdrc/>

Supported by the U.S. Institute of Peace Public Education for Peacebuilding Support Initiative

Last updated: 2013-11-07 17:17:26

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(between Broad St. and Broadway)
New York, NY 10004
(646) 732-3261

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