WHERE MY LADIES AT: The Creative Women I Know & Their Vision for Nuit Blanche 2013

Logo for Nuit Blanche

I know a lot of talented people – people who inspire me with their insight, challenge my perceptions, and expand my mind.

Some of the those people are these four women – artist Christine Kim, curator Crystal Mowry, designer Gelareh Saadatpajouh and architect Talayeh Hamidya. I have walked away from every conversation with these women with some golden nugget and so it goes without saying that when I found out that each of them were adding their talent to Nuit Blanche 2013 they all got added to my must-see list (along with everything Ami Barak curated!).


CHRISTINE KIM & PAPER ORBS

“Paper Orbs begins the night as a massive origami sculpture which dissolves into thousands of paper helmets worn by visitors as they parade down University Avenue. As both a lantern and a center of gravity, the paper float pulls visitors in and encourages them to return throughout the night to experience the dissolution of the paper sculpture. The accumulated paper helmets disperse into scattered constellations that float along the street. The helmets also resonate with notions of patterned order and militaristic armor.” More info…

Where: University Ave & Armour St. View Map

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CRYSTAL MOWRY WITH IVAN JURAKIC & ROMANCING THE ANTHROPOCENE

“Curators Ivan Jurakic and Crystal Mowry invite you to explore the age of man and its effect on our environment along King Street west of Yonge Street and Bay Street south of Richmond Street West…The Anthropocene, or age of man, is a term proposed by geologists and ecologists as a replacement for the Holocene, the current geological epoch that began over 10,000 years ago. The Anthropocene marks a distinct era after the advent of the Industrial Revolution, a period in which humanity has left an indelible mark on both the geological record and the ecosystem. At face value it acknowledges the triumph of science and human achievement but it also suggests a cautionary message regarding climate change, the destruction of natural habitat, resource depletion, and the extinction of plant and animal species.

Using the Anthropocene as our guiding principle, we want to address the complexities of this proposed new age within the context of the urban environment while addressing our enduring, and yet troubled relationship with the natural world.” More info…

Where: King Street west of Yonge Street & Bay Street south of Richmond Street West. View Map

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TALAYEH HAMIDYA & GELAREH SAADATPAJOUH (SOCIETY OF HOME LUDENS)  & YOU ARE IN THE LABYRINTH

‘You are in a labyrinth’ is a game designed by ‘Society of Homo Ludens’ and commissioned by Queen West BIA for the special event of Nuit Blanche 2013 Toronto.

“Every labyrinth is made of three defining elements: a starting point, a centre and a path in between that connects the dots. On October 5th, the city becomes your labyrinth, look for clues and signs along the path for direction. At the centre, a reward is awaiting you, where you will be given an insight into yourself and the world around you, only if you complete the path from the beginning to the end. But first you have to hum a secret to grant the entry into the labyrinth.” More info…

Where: Alex Wilson Parkett, 522 Richmond Street West. Look for arrows and signs around the city for direction. View Map

“A labyrinth is a symbolic journey…but it is a map we can really walk on, blurring the difference between map and world.”
~ Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

 

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Also excited about THIRD CULTURE at the OCAD U Student Gallery.

“Third Culture is an exhibition of multi-media works that examine and interrogate the historical and ongoing dilemmas of multiculturalism. The artists featured use technological, sonic, and visual arts, and combine elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy and magic-realism.” More info…

FEATURING WORK BY:

Andy Gavin Hicks (Andycapp) / Ayesha Mansur / Darcy Obokata / Hakili Don /Ingrid Mesquita / Kyle Hough / Liam Crockard / Matt Langdon / Minesh Mandoda / Nep Sidhu  / Rajni Perera / Sab Meynert / Sara Golish / Todd Westendorp

Join the Facebook Event Page

Where:OCAD U Student Gallery, 52 McCaul St. View Map

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Find out more about Nuit Blanche on the website or Facebook.
Follow along on twitter @sbnuitblancheTO & #snbTO

 

WRITTEN ON THE BODY/ POLITICS OF POETRY: Iranian Artists & the Power of Script Pt 2

Image of sculpture made from bubble wrap and words on wall behind it saying The Third Space

Curator Sanaz Mazinani’s show The Third Space is wrapping up this weekend at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. MIXED BAG MAG caught up with this busy and multi-talented woman whose career as an artist, educator and curator has her bifurcating herself between Toronto and San Francisco. In the second part (read Part 1 here) of MIXED BAG MAG’s look into the work of contemporary Iranian art Sanaz offers historical background to the contemporary foreground of some of the work included The Third Space and the symbolic and visual power of script.

 Classical Persian alphabet with Roman phonetics underneath

The History of Calligraphy in Persia

Persian Calligraphy has had a significant effect on the enhancement of Persian arts and culture. The various Iranian Calligraphic styles, such as Taliq, Nastaliq, Naskh, Thulth, Reqa, Towqi, Shekasteh, and Kufic each carry with them an emblem of an era of history. These decorative scripts allow the reader to visually enjoy the composition of the word, in a wholly new way, providing the viewer with multiple levels of engagement with the work of art.

Mother and son looking at images of art incorporating Farsi script
Artist Gita Hashemi‘s Book of Illuminations.

Contemporary use of calligraphy by Iranian artists

Many Iranian artists find inspiration in the traditional forms of Persian Calligraphy. However, few are able to successfully marry the traditional forms of calligraphy with a contemporary voice in new and successful ways. One of these artists is Gita Hashemi, whose recent project “The Book of Illuminations” is featured in “The Third Space” exhibition. In this work Hashemi explores the intersection between politics and the personal through calligraphic representations of culturally charged words. Her calligraphy paintings do not merely render poetic verses, but aim to unpack the meaning behind words that we use on a daily basis to symbolically question cultural in-tolerances. One example uses the word “غربتی” which is a derogatory term that comes from the root word “غربت” and means the longing for one’s homeland. But used as an offensive term, it takes on a new meaning and refers to that person as someone who does not belong, and does not fit into the norm. These terms shown here in proximity to the personal narration of the artist’s life writing speak to the expectations placed on us and the limitations of societal benchmarks. Hashemi’s The Book of Illuminations is a fresh approach to the long tradition of calligraphy from Iran and uses a feminist perspective to challenge this traditionally male-dominated, decorative practice by inserting the political into the equation.


Artist Gita Hashemi‘s Book of Illuminations.

In another project, Toronto based artist, Sona Safaei, uses the Farsi and English alphabet and essay writing styles  to uncover the differences in the two languages, which intern demonstrate alternative ways of thinking through a subject. Her process often engages with lost meanings in translations, as she questions the possibility of communications across cultures through looking at the self and the feelings associated with otherness. In The Third Space exhibition, Safaei-Sooreh two works respond to the meeting of two languages (English and Farsi). In Alphabet, the viewer finds herself in front of a split screen video as the camera tracks two alphabets being hand written in pencil – one in English, from left to right, and the other in Farsi, from right to left. A dense and textured sound enhances the experience of watching each gesture. The sounds from the left and right videos combine in a seamless collaboration. An amalgamation occurs precisely at the moment when the video loop comes to a close and both sets of alphabets have been written out tin their entirety. This charming momentary union marks an important occurrence, as the English alphabet includes 26 letters and the Persian alphabet 32, this serendipitous synchronicity signals a potential for cohesion of these two cultures. Safaei-Sooreh’s second work titled, Border is a dual channel video installation in which two sets of texts on the subject of art intersect at the corner of a room. The writing disappears on the borderline where adjacent walls meet, creating a unique experience for the viewer, as the piece examines the duality of experiences always at play in transcultural situations.


Artist Sona Safaei-Sooreh’s Alphabet.

CLOSING TOMORROW SUNDAY SEPT 15!
The Third Space is on at the Harbourfront Centre’s York Quay Gallery.

LOCATION
235 Queens Quay W.
Toronto, ON
M5J 2G8, Canada
HOURS
Saturday: Noon – 6 pm
Sunday: Noon – 6 pm
For more information visit the website.

All above images courtesy of curator Sanaz Mazinani’s.

 

WRITTEN ON THE BODY/ POLITICS OF POETRY: Iranian Artists & the Power of Script Pt 1

Cover of magazine with woman in chador, the barrel of a gun pointing out beside her right ear and Farsi script written over her face.

Establishing the Vocabulary of the Visuals

When Iranian artist Shirin Neshat’s photography first started appearing the language, whether you understood Farsi or not, was explosive.

The images mixed violence, tenderness, and sensuality in a way I had never encountered before. I was used to seeing women valued in art as an aesthetic but not as a stage upon which a woman could perform an act of defiance by literally writing the script of her own point of view upon the body.

This was 1990s and the voices of women artists, especially of non-Western origin, were still muffled under the (wet) blanket of Modernity’s traditions in the way we were to experience art, talk about art as well as conduct the business of art.

Above image from Islamic Arts Magazine article on Shirin Neshat.

“I feel a strong parallel between the writings of contemporary Iranian poets and my images, which visualize the metaphors that are so important in the text.” ~ Shirin Neshat in World Art Magazine, 1996

no one is thinking about the flowers
no one is thinking about the fish
no one wants to believe
the garden is dying
that the garden’s heart is swollen under the sun
that the garden
is slowly forgetting its green moments
~ Forugh Farrokhzād

Above image from Islamic Arts Magazine article on Shirin Neshat.

For me, the contemporary art I was studying in university and experiencing in galleries felt foreign and unrecognizable – not so much to my eyes but to my soul. In the experience of Shirin’s work I found a homeland. It was the gestures – the female hands and lips. It was the look in the eyes staring from one female to another. This time a woman’s gaze was directing the compositional outcome.

Photograph on page of magazine with woman holding a gun between her feet and Farsi script written on the bottom of them.

Since that time there has been an outburst of women in art. Internationally the work of women is some of the most exciting work to be encountered. The art is layered with explorative technique and quick cleverness as well as being emotionally charged.

But the commentary provided in the work is not exclusive to the female mind. Much of the work being produced is about the experience of being human.

Sona Safaei-Sooreh’s installation Alphabet and Border, currently showing at York Quay Gallery (Harbourfront Centre) as part of curator Sanaz Mazinani‘s The  Third Space Exhibit uses a video of English text converging with Farsi script to get the audience to consider the contemporary condition of ever collapsing boundaries.

Sona Safaei-Sooreh installation “Alphabet and Border”. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

Border is a video installation in which Farsi and English texts move towards a corner of a room and disappear on the borderline of two walls. It is about arbitrariness of rules and regulations, the sense of in-between-ness, duality and ambivalence that one experiences in a transcultural situation.

The borderline is a narrow vertical line between two walls: the joint. The place two walls meet.  This very “thin line” changes the direction of one’s eye, all of a sudden similar to geopolitical borders in between countries. One step back or forth one is occupied with different laws and orders.”

This beautiful short by Elnaz Maassoumian treats text in a different way less about its abstraction and more about the poetics of its meaning as interpreted by the viewer.

Untitled from Elnaz Maassoumian on Vimeo.

From literal translation of text back over to abstraction Elnaz’ piece featured in The Third Space exhibit is about the “Poetics of Space”.

Image from curator Sanaz Mazinani‘s Facebook page.

“I am interested in Gaston Bachelard’s idea from The Poetics of Space. Bachelard talks about different kinds of spaces: nests, shells, corners…These spaces are approached both from their physical and metaphorical aspects: they offer refuge and constitute ‘doors for the imagination’.  I am interested in the potentials of space. By this I mean the exploration of the possible uses that a space offers. I am approaching this through the reconfiguration of a given space to accommodate specific needs which can change over time. For these purposes, flexible, malleable materials constitute ideal means. They can be easily retooled or reshape to conform given purposes. They also open rich possibilities for redefinition of the relation between private-public; in-out; isolation-connection; visible-invisible.”   More images on Elnaz’s website

To gain more insight into Shirin’s powerful imagery, both in the still and moving image, MIXED BAG MAG recommends Tirgan Festival at Harbourfront Centre this coming weekend. Shirin will be giving talks on her body of work and there will be screenings of both her feature film Women Without Men as well as her shorts. All events are FREE!

FRIDAY, JULY 19
7 pm – Correlations of Visual Arts & Cinema Q & A with Shoja Azari, Shirin Neshat, Babak Payami @ Lakeside Terrace, Harbourfront Centre

9 pm – Collection of Short Films by Shirin Neshat @ Studio Theatre Harbourfront Centre


SATURDAY, JULY 20

1 pm – Women Without Men Screening with Q & A @ Studio Theatre Harbourfront Centre

9:30 pm – Women Without Men Screening with Q & A

ONGOING

The Third Space Exhibit is ongoing until September 15 at Harbourfront Centre.

Work by Gita Hashemi. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.