Saturday, 31 August 2013






Lisa Jackson, Savage, 2009. Photo: Kris Krüg

September 6-December 1, 2013

OPENING EVENTS: Saturday, September 7

1-2 pm: Performance of Joane Cardinal-Schubert's The Lesson by Justin Cardinal-Schubert

2-4 pm: Opening remarks and reception

SYMPOSIUM: Friday, November 15
Traumatic Histories, Artistic Practice and Working from the Margins

Witnesses: Art and Canada’s Indian Residential Schools presents artists who have produced work arising from the history of Indian Residential Schools in Canada and coincides with, but is independent from, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada National Event that will take place in Vancouver from September 18 to 21, 2013. 
The exhibition features artists from British Columbia and across Canada, and is cross-generational to include those who directly experienced Indian Residential Schools as well as those who are witnesses to its ongoing impact.
 There is a sense in which we all must be witnesses. 
Witnesses aims to contribute to the education of the public about Indian Residential Schools, to illustrate how this issue has become embedded in Canadian art history and to demonstrate the strong social and cultural capacity of art. Combined, the works in the exhibition represent a convergence of various voices addressing this often difficult aspect of Canada’s colonial history.
The exhibition includes iconic historical works by artists such as Joane Cardinal-Schubert, Alex Janvier and Norval Morrisseau, as well as more recent work and special commissions by some of Canada’s most respected contemporary artists. Works have been sourced from across Canada and borrowed from artists, collectors and museums. Other artists include Gerry Ambers, Carl Beam, Rebecca Belmore, Chris Bose, Cathy Busby, Beau Dick, Faye HeavyShield, Lisa Jackson, Gina Laing, Peter Morin, Jamasie Pitseolak, Skeena Reece, Sandra Semchuk and James Nicholas, Henry Speck, Adrian Stimson, Tania Willard and Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun. Public and educational programming will include guided tours, lectures, artist talks, performances and online programs.
Witnesses is curated by Geoffrey Carr, Dana Claxton, Tarah Hogue, Shelly Rosenblum, Charlotte Townsend-Gault, Keith Wallace and Scott Watson. This project is made possible with the generous support of the Audain Foundation, the Vancouver Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation, the British Columbia Arts Council and our Belkin Curator’s Forum members. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the UBC Hampton Fund.




Upcoming: November 15, 2013





The symposium will convene around questions arising from the exhibition, including curatorial issues, the role of artistic practice in reconciliation (along with a fundamental investigation of the concept of reconciliation) and a broader theoretical discussion around modernity and indigeneity. 
The project of modernization in Canada, as elsewhere, attempted to segregate, assimilate and erase indigenous culture, leading to policies such as the Indian Residential School system. 
In this process, the artistic practices of Indigenous peoples has been both marginalized and, at the same time, an important tool for cultural vitality and survivance. 
In what ways have artworks taking up these often-neglected aspects of modernity come to shape current practice in art and art history? What kind(s) of curatorial imperatives can, or ought to, contribute to the project of art & reconciliation? These are just some of the critical questions we hope to address together during the symposium.
Panel One: Curating Difficult Histories
Participants will discuss the current climate of curating contemporary Indigenous/Aboriginal art. What recent shifts in methodology have occurred and in what ways are localized histories, belief systems and practices being integrated into the broader discourse around contemporary art? How do exhibitions that grapple with difficult issues affect the future direction of Indigenous/Aboriginal art? Is there a new terminology developing in Art History that can address the work of Indigenous artists in more nuanced ways?
Panel Two: Art and Reconciliation?
The term “reconciliation” has provoked a wide range of reactions in its use by the Canadian government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. What does this term suggest and what does it occlude? Are there alternatives? Where does art that addresses traumatic histories sit in relation to this discussion? How do artists participate in reconciliatory practices in their art works? Should Indigenous artists be responsible for making such gestures? This latter question is related to the relationship between art and healing as well, as in, how do artworks dealing with trauma contribute to healing either the artist or the public?
Panel Three: Modernity and Indigeneity
Current discourse around contemporary Indigenous art, as in other areas, has been shaped by and in response to the history of colonization and modernity across the Americas. How has the growing body of literature about and by Indigenous peoples affected the way we view modernity, and in turn, how are contemporary issues of land claims, sovereignty and cultural practice affected by this discussion?
Visit us again for details regarding the time and location of symposium

university of british columbia
1825 main mall
vancouver, british columbia,
canada v6t 1z2

Friday, 30 August 2013

NET-ETH: Going out of darkness

NET ETH: Going Out of the Darkness
SWARM event: September 13, 6-9pm
Exhibition dates: September 12-29

Artists: Chris Bose, Lacie Burning, Brenda Crabtree, 
Wayne Dennis, Mimi Gellman, David Neel, 
Lou-ann Ika’wega Neel, Jada-Gabrielle Pape, 
Adrian Stimson, Jerry Whitehead, Tania Willard, 
Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun and others.

Curated by: Tarah Hogue and Rose Spahan
NET ETH: Going Out of the Darkness is a group exhibition of over twenty contemporary and traditional First Nations artists, among them are Indian Residential School survivors and their descendants whose work is a powerful testimony to their personal healing process. 
NET ETH is a hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ metaphor for “the first light after the darkness, a time when you pray and cleanse your tools to make them strong”. Here, the artwork reflects the process of “opening up to the light, so that we can all heal together” from the intergenerational trauma that is the sad legacy of Canada’s Indian Residential School system. 
Organized by Malaspina Printmakers Society, the exhibition spans three venues: Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Malaspina’s studio space, and the Urban Aboriginal Fair Trade Gallery at Skwachàys Healing Lodge located in Vancouver’s downtown east side. The NET ETH: Going Out of the Darkness exhibition catalogue will feature essays, poems, biographies and artist statements and the works of sixteen of the participating artists.
click image for full view

Radio Fest Fundraiser + Radio Festival

— RED JAM SLAM Radio Fest Fundraiser ———

September 6 at the Radio Station Cafe on 101 Hastings Street from 6-10 p.m.
Red Jam Slam, 4 radio stations, documentary producers, musicians, comedians, fashion show, auction items… it’s all here and we invite you out for a great evening.
Join us in this first step to launch a 4 day special simulcast happening on CJSFCiVLCFRO and CiTR (details to come!).
We also celebrate 40 radio documentaries, called ‘Resonating Reconciliation, produced nationally, which begin airing across Canada in time for the Truth & Reconciliation Commission events.
click image for full view

visit website

Red Jam Slam

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Iran diaspora ~ musical engagement

Ey Dad Az Eshgh (what about love)

Love for Speed (Eshgh e Sorat) with Subtitles

Kind of Persian

Ahmad Kiarostami  

vid 1 kiasohrabi

Uploaded on Sep 4, 2007

Directed by: Ahmad Kiarostami .
Music: Kiosk .
Album: Ordinary Man

vid 2 kiasohrabi

Uploaded on May 3, 2007

Directed by: Ahmad Kiarostami .
Music: Kiosk .
Album: amor de la velocidad

vid 3 kiasohrabi
Uploaded on Oct 12, 2009
Directed by: Ahmad Kiarostami .
Music: Nima M .
Based on a song by: Arash Tebbi

vid 4   

A story told by the narrator about a man who has lost his love and how he comes to encounter her again, although she has gone through several changes along the way.
Directed and edited by Arash Tebbi.
Track produced, mixed, and mastered by N.O.I.S. (No Obstacles in Sight)

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Sky Dancer ~ Louise Bernice Halfe

Louise Halfe

 - Calgary Spoken Word Festival 2011

Louise Bernice Halfe interview, 

Words Aloud 2007, Canada

Advice for Students from Louise Halfe



vid 1 Uploaded on June 14, 2011  ciswf

vid 2 Uploaded on Mar 26, 2009 WordsAloud2

Louise Bernice Halfe interviewed by Ian Ferrier at the Words Aloud 4 Spoken Word Festival in Durham, Ontario, Canada, November 2007. Courtesy Coteau Books, DVDs of Words Aloud performances and interviews available at

vid 3 Uploaded on Sep 16, 2010StudentawardsInc

Advice for Students from Louise Halfe
Poet Laureate, Saskatchewan

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Homāy o Homāyun ~ Humay & Humayan

Homāy o Homāyun, in 4,435 couplets, and dated by the chronogram B-Ḏ-L (= 1331), is written in the meter of Neẓāmi’s Eskandar-nāma (the motaqāreb meter). It is dedicated to the Il-khanid Sultan Abu Saʿid Bahādor and his vizier, Ḡiāṯ-al-Din Moḥammad. The poem relates the adventures of the Persian prince Homāy, who falls in love with the Chinese princess, Homāyun. After a long fight with her father, the Faḡfur, he wins both his beloved and the empire of China. The story is situated in the times of the ancient Iranian king Hušang, and contains elements derived from popular tales.
~Iranica Online, ḴᵛĀJU KERMĀNI

Humāy u Humāyūn was completed in 1331 in response to a request to enchant Muslim audiences with a Magian theme. Prince Humay fell in love with a picture of Humayun, daughter of the Emperor of China, whose portrait he was shown in a vision by the Queen of the Fairies. His quest to find his beloved led him through many adventures but eventually he won her and became ruler of the Chinese empire.

~ An illustrated 14th century khamsa by Khavaju Kirmani

Prince Humay Meets Princess Humayun

Depicts the story told in the legendary epic, Humay & Humayun, written by Khwaja Kirmani (1281-1352 AD), which describes the love story between Prince Humay, son of the mythical Iranian hero Hushang (the Haoshanha of the Avesta), for Humayun, Princess of China. This painting, 6 by 8½ in., belongs to the Timurid period of 'Persian art... (more)


(1290-ca. 1349), Persian poet and mystic. Ḵᵛāju was undoubtedly a versatile poet of great inventiveness and originality. 
More about this poet, on this blog

image 1  The Persian prince Humay catching sight of the image of the Chinese princess Humayun, Herat 1427/28.  Source: Kunsthistorisches Institut / Freie Universität
image 3  Prince Humay Meets Princess Humayun
*more researches soon

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Ehab Lotayef ~ State of Emergency ~ حالة طوارئ

حالة طوارئ

عيني عليكي يا حرية
قلبي معاكي يا حرية
طعنوكي بخنجر مسموم
كتبوا عليه : ليبرالية

عيني عليكي يا حرية
فـقلبك حسرة وحنّية
على زَهرِة وِلد بهية
على كل وِلد بهية

اللي اعتصموا
واللي إنتقموا ، اللي عَمتهم الكراهية

واللي إمبارح هدّوا السجن
ورجعوا اليوم من تاني بنوه
أعلى واكبر
علشان يوسع كل بلدنا
فـي الايام السودة الجاية

إيهاب لُطَيّف

State of Emergency

Freedom … for you I weep
Freedom … I feel your pain

They hid the blade under a cloak of liberalism
and stabbed you in the back

Freedom … I feel your pain

You cry for Egypt’s brightest children
for all Egypt’s children
Those who protested
and those who attacked - blinded by hate

And those who demolished the prison
only to rebuild it again: Larger, higher

So that it will have room for the whole country
in the dark days that are upon us

Ehab Lotayef
August 14, 2013

Arab Spring and now the Egyptian fall 

(Radio Canada International, two interviews, 15 Aug 2013)


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

inspired by tradition

Eleena Banik ~ Painted Objects
Eleena Banik ~ Painted Objects
Eleena Banik ~ The Icon
Mother Earth

Eleena Banik ~ Painted Objects

Eleena Banik ~Painted Objects,
inspired by traditional iconographies

Eleena Banik

Elenea Banik, inspired by traditional iconographies

Diverse installations, painted objects, and paintings, and a photo of the artist with her work, from the artist's website (and suppressed work found elsewhere on the web).

Eleena Banik frequently explores issues of intimate and universal importance to women, and from time to time she has come under extreme censure for doing so.

Final image is from her 2009 downloadable book, HisHer Story [pdf], combining art with poetry. The book's subtitle is,

"My Voice Against Violence As A Woman."

Thanks to Garga Chatterjee for introducing me to this artist's work.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

a forced forgetting of the naked sacred

Hajarduari, a few excerpts
I remember a time, not so long ago, when my very Bengali brahmin family would travel outside Bengal. The visits would include religious places. Their attitude towards these places was clear – these were divine all right, but it was clearly understood within the family that these places were not ‘ours’. Sometimes such places invoked awe due to size, sometimes due to the volume of the crowds.
‘Our’ gods lay elsewhere. Among the creepers and water-bodies of a small village in the Hooghly district of Bengal, a particular mother goddess was omnipresent in the vocabulary of our family. They were in the form of a snake goddess who sat in a precarious perch near our Kolkata home, in a makeshift ‘temple’ between a bridge and a river. There was the lump-shaped Dharma Thakur, again of our village, who has steadfastly refused brahminic mediation to this day. My family has come to live intimately with their moods and powers, their vehemence and their limits. They are ‘our’ gods.
In the last couple of decades, certain sentences have been thrown at me multiple times – scenarios I would not have expected earlier. The foremost among these is one spoken with some incredulity and an equal measure of haughtiness – ‘ Hindi nahi aata?’. A new nation-state is evolving; a new consensus is being beaten out of the badlands of the subcontinent. Gods are not unaffected in this scheme of things.
It started innocuously for such things have always happened. Young people moving away from their hometowns to other cities. Unprecedented levels of rural devastation and concomitant ‘urbanization’ for those beyond the pale of growth figures. But there has been a briskness in this process, a fast disemboweling, that cannot go unnoticed. The gods watched their devotees thinning away, overgrown groves lost witnesses to their sacredness. The story is clearly more complex than this but we do have at hand now, a generation or two, who have grown up without a conception of faith and religion that only an intimate ecology of a non-atomized society can provide. What we have in its place are unprecedented levels of scripture-literacy, a forced forgetting of the naked sacred, and shame about the practices of one’s grandmother. In this new religious worldview, older ‘superstitions’ are avoided and even condemned, with a mishmash of scriptures and lifestyle demands of modern urban society forming the bedrock of ‘eternal values’. These stances have wide currency among the rootless urbanfolk who may be religious or irreligious, but are Siamese twins when it comes to being self-servingly contemptuous of the rustic and the fantastic.
~ from Garga Chatterjee, The rise and rise of Portable Religion
In the amazing race to match cities like Riyadh and Kabul, famous for free-thinking, art and culture, Mumbai stole a march on Kolkata by threatening Maqbul Fida Hussain and disrupting the exhibition of his paintings of goddess Durga and Saraswati. Not to be culturally outdone, the so-called ‘cultural capital’ struck back by expelling Tasleema Nasreen, giving in to the threats by some angry Muslims. In a classic ‘one-two combo’, Kolkata followed up this act by successfully keeping Salman Rushdie out of its limits. Mumbai had actually hosted him – it had fallen back in the race. But recently it roared back in the race by despatching its best sons of the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti to the Jehangir Art Gallery to remove paintings of goddess Kali by Kolkata-based painter Eleena Banik. Game on.
But this is a dangerous game. For people of faith, it is important that gods and goddesses be taken back from the loudest and the most threatening. Rather it should be asked that in a plural society, how is anyone able to violently attack, threaten, issue death-threats and shut down other voices. The plurality of divine forms in the subcontinent does not originate from scriptures and strictures, but from the agency of humans, however negligible in number, to be able to own, disown, partially own and partially disown the divine. No definition of how gods and goddesses ought to be or ought not to be can be enforced by force in a civilized society. If a group thinks that they are the thikadars of divine beings, I feel it is important to remind them that I did not appoint them to such a post, as far as my gods and goddesses are concerned.
The Hindu Janjagruti Samiti’s targetting of mother goddess Kali has forced me to respond, especially because I am from a Bengali Shakto ( followers of the divine mother) family. Our ancestral worship of the divine mother goes back at least four hundred years. We take our Kali seriously. Till now, Bengali Shaktos have not had the need to look to any Hindus from Mumbai or elsewhere for its ‘jagruti’. We have been worshipping mother Kali before Mumbai got its first temple for Mumbadevi.
The saffron neophytes who forced Eleena to take down her paintings of goddess Kali did not approve of the fact that she had painted her without the garland of skulls. Her breasts were visible, because she has them. The mother goddess does not wear garlands to cover her breasts from the scandalized. She is both maternal and sexual. And if your like your goddess to have lesser qualities than my mother goddess, that is your problem. If you feel ashamed of my naked holy mother, that's your problem, not mine. Keep your shame to yourself. Dont come draping my mother with your cloth. Your mother may like being told by their devotee-sons what to wear. My holy mother has a divine mind of her own.
People have conceived goddess Kali variously in different times, in different places. For someone to dictate how my conception of the goddess ‘should’ look like is religious imperialism. While a monolithic Indian Union nation-state helps such pan-subcontinental ‘standards’ to gain wider currency, the goddess is older than the constitution. Those who take their definitions of shame from the sensibilities of the Victorian British have long been ill at ease with the naked glory of goddess Kali. They have tried to make make the garland an essential accessory, have made the garland-heads bigger, have made the goddess always have her hair in front of the shoulder spread out on her body – essentially every cheap trick in the book to cover her breasts. Breasts are sexually desirable. Breasts are also symbols of motherly love. If you have a problem with a sexually active, breast-feeding mother goddess, try a ‘nirgun’ god. Don’t come draping my goddess.
Sometimes we do not realize how recent some of our imaginations of gods and goddesses are. For example, many consider the blouse of the goddess to be a ‘sanatan’ item of clothing – just that it was virtually unknown in the subcontinent in that peculiar form before Empress Victoria’s reign. My holy mother is older than that. Maqbul Fida Hussain, that sterling admirer of goddess Durga, had liberated her form from the patently mid-19th century blouse clad look, re-imagining her in naked matriarchal glory. You expect me to give up my holy mother’s timeless antiquity for your second-rate desi version of imported Victorian sensibility?

By way of distortion of an oft-half quoted line by Karl Marx, one can say that in a plural society, religions have to be defended from becoming the tool of bigoted creatures, the face of a heartless worldview, the mechanical output of scripture-reading zombies. It has to be defended from becoming the enemy of a plural society. So-called ‘distortion’ is the long-term life-blood of plural, democratic societies. Joy Ma Kali.
~ from Garga Chatterjee, Clothing the Sacred in the Vain...
Above articles share the tag, A million Gods, and can be found alongside many more articles by the same author on the blog,