Adorned with acanthus leaves on one side and Kufic script on the other, a marble stele in the Aga Khan Museum Collection is a testament to artistic ingenuity: its original purpose was architectural decoration for an ancient Roman structure — yet in the 10th century, it was repurposed to mark the grave of a leather merchant. The object bears the inscriptions of different cultures and different times. Its many layers speak to and through each other; its present is the sum of at least two different pasts.
The contemporary artists featured in HERE suggest that Canadian identity, too, is made of many “inscriptions” and embedded stories. Whether Canadian-born or naturalized, permanent residents or ex-pats, these artists carry experiences from multiple geographies and generations, from neighbours old and new. Rich with questions, their works may point to a pathway for both individuals and nations. Building a future means recognizing our complex histories, finding spaces to grow, and allowing conversations to continue.
Taxidermy fox, silver tray, and concealed object
Courtesy of Studio Babak Golkar and Galería Sabrina Amrani
This artwork by artist Babak Golkar is part of his larger “Time Capsules” series, which addresses how value is created as well as how the artist can create his or her own economy. This particular piece, featuring a taxidermy fox holding a silver tray, also hints at the cunning aspects of world financial systems. Embedded within the fox is another artwork, not yet visible to the public: a time capsule that is to remain sealed for one hundred years. Opening the capsule before 2116 would render the artwork void and of no value. In this way, Golkar has created his own economy. According to art resource Artsy, “the concealment of the inner works raises questions about the value of art as well as the value we place on actually being able to see it.”
Recycled neon, electrical, and colour photography mounted on masonite
Courtesy of Ivey Business School, Western University, London, Ontario
The title of the piece comes from a quote by Canadian writer Gabrielle Roy that was featured on a paper edition of Canada’s $20 bank note. That edition is now out of circulation. Artist Jamelie Hassan highlights the quote in this piece by positioning the words inside a neon green maple leaf sign, recovered from a London, Ontario, restaurant that had closed down. The ideas and materials that compose this piece have a shared history: both were taken out of circulation and then given new life by the artist. According to Hassan, “this work, which at first appears to be about something as familiar as currency, speaks to the possibility of other exchanges and encounters.”
Canadian Art, July 20, 2017
What Makes a Canadian Artist?
Globe and Mail, July 28, 2017
Bringing the hyphen to the nation
Toronto Star, July 30, 2017
Another take on Canada at the Aga Khan Museum
Globe and Mail, October 25, 2017
What singer Matt Dusk is watching, reading and looking forward to
NOW, December 5, 2017
The 10 best art shows of 2017
George Elliott Clarke
Dawit L. Petros
Detail of The Fox, The Nut And the Banker’s Hand, 2016-2116, Babak Golkar, 2016. Taxidermy fox, concealed object, silver tray, and varnished wood. Copyright © Babak Golkar. Courtesy of Studio Babak Golkar and Galería Sabrina Amrani.
Guest Curator: Swapnaa Tamhane
Photos by Philip Castleton Photography