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Fall Exhibitions at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery

September 29 to November 26, 2017
Opening reception: Saturday, September 30 at 8 PM

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where/between | Curated by Pantea Haghighi
Hossein Amanat, Hossein Valamanesh, Soheila Esfahani, Mandana Moghaddam, Neda Razavipour, Hamidreza Jadid, Nazgol Ansarinia, Arash Hanaei

Experiencing a subtle yet persistent sense of being ‘out-of-place’ often drives one to seek security in a sense of consistency and normality. When short-lived, feelings of displacement can afford healthy readjustment. However, there are dangers in living through a permanent state of exception. What was once the anomaly becomes routinized, creating consistency within inconsistency itself. Here, the concept of belonging is thrown into unrest, ostensibly creating an irreconcilable situation – neither completely “belonging to” or “excluded from.” Yet, in moments of unrest we crave connection and stability, knowing how dangerously close we tread to chronic uncertainty. In a space between the exceptional state of affairs and hopeful idealism, is it possible to find the potential for transformation? Can we use the rupture to move between, or beyond, one state while cultivating another?

where/between conceptualizes the bridge as an underlying theme. At once a visual motif and a metaphoric analogue, it occupies a moment of disconnect as the artists unsettle notions of local and cultural belonging. As a physical conduit, a bridge straddles two places, providing safe passage. As a set of ideas, it evokes liberation, and interlinkage, constituting a mode by which impossible unknowns may be traversed.

where/between brings together works in video, painting, sculpture, photography, and mixed media by artists of common Iranian heritage. While not all the works explicitly reference Iran or Iranian culture, many of them explore what it means to be outsiders of one culture living in another. The exhibition challenges the repercussions of shared global capitalism and appeals the assertion that cultural imperialism is dwindling, all while juxtaposing techniques of cultural preservation and methods of solidarity. Analogy and contrast are used with optimism, endeavouring to draw attention to latent relations of resistance. It is through disequilibrium that these artists are unified.

A shared history of migration and a learned experience of intellectual, social, and physical fragility are common threads throughout. The artists respond to contemporary aesthetics of liminality as their collective bodies of work function as a movement between and beyond borders. Like civil war, insurrection, or resistance, these works situate themselves in a state of imbalance. Each artist’s practice functions as part of the bridge required to construct a path of dissent. The bridge both connects and reconnects, bringing about the very breeding grounds of discontent necessary for counteraction.

where/between is organized by the Southern Alberta Art Gallery. Funding assistance provided by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the City of Lethbridge, and Equinox Gallery.

Image: Neda Razavipour, Edge of Chaos 1, 2015. Pigment ink print, 28" x 42", Edition of 5. Image courtesy of Equinox Gallery.


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Jeneen Frei Njootli | red rose ad lidii

If you are disconnected from the earth, then you are disconnected from each other, disconnected from creation and then you violate creation. We are creators, so we are the first to be violated.
- Lee Maracle, as part of an Idle No More teach-in on August 24th, 2012

What is the nature of our belongings? To what extent do they shape who we are? For Jeneen Frei Njootli, belongings can be entwined with ancestral memory, community, love, and care. But also something darker, something gruesome; they can reflect consumption, of our bodies, our art, our knowledge. In her exhibition, red rose ad lidii, Frei Njootli presents an assortment of printed images, video, objects, and performance that draws upon her personal collection of beadwork, which not insignificantly, is comprised of gifts from friends and family members. The work captures the artist firmly pressing the beadwork against various parts of her body, leaving an imprint at once indexical (the bead’s trace is revealed on the artist’s skin), and symbolic (a register that links memory, landscape, trauma and body).

On the one hand, the marks denote an aggressive act, a self-inflicted modification of her body, which reflects the ongoing violence against the earth and against women. Thinking of ‘the body as territory,’ the impressions reveal a powerful covenant between herself, her community, and the land – hurt one and you hurt them all. On the other hand, its trace is fleeting and impermanent. In an arguably ceremonial fashion, Frei Njootli seems to subsume these beadworks, along with the stories they embody, as a gesture of strength and unity. Each of her belongings is held, acknowledged, loved, and celebrated for its unique beauty and craftsmanship before being transferred to her skin, her body, and her being. Beading, like many creative acts, is valued as a way to work through grief and trauma and these objects can often become touchstones for others. What does it mean to share this trauma, and take up this knowledge through the body?

Jeneen Frei Njootli is a member of the self-governing Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and is a co-creator of the ReMatriate Collective. She has been living as an uninvited guest in the unceded, ancestral lands and waters of the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Stó:lō peoples for around a decade. Working collaboratively with artists, communities, youth, and the land, Frei Njootli’s practice takes the shape of sound, performance, fashion, workshops and barbecues. She sits on the Board of Directors for grunt gallery and recently completed her Master of Fine Arts Degree from the University of British Columbia. Frei Njootli is represented by Macaulay & Co. Fine Arts in Toronto.

red rose ad lidii is organized by the Southern Alberta Art Gallery. Funding assistance provided by the Canada Council for the Arts, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and the City of Lethbridge.

Image: Jeneen Frei Njootli, Mom's Gift, 2017. Photograph. Image courtesy of the artist.


For more details visit www.saag.ca or contact us at 403-327-8770 x 21 or info@saag.ca


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