HERE: Locating Canadian Contemporary Art

Aga Khan Museum, Toronto

July to December 2017

Derya Akay, Sharlene Bamboat, George Elliott Clarke, Sameer Farooq, Brette Gabel, Babak Golkar, Osheen Harruthoonyan, Jamelie Hassan, Sukaina Kubba, Khan Lee, Harkeerat Mangat, Nahed Mansour, Nadia Myre, Dawit L. Petros, Nujalia Quvianaqtuliaq, Dorothea Rockburne, Nep Sidhu, Shaan Syed, Jaret Vadera, Zadie Xa, and Elizabeth Zvonar 

This exhibition metaphorically centred around an artifact that belongs to the permanent collection of the Aga Khan Museum: a marble spoila from the Roman period that was used as a funerary stele in 987. This 20-inch high piece of marble, repurposed from an architectural section, has scrolling acanthus leaves on one side and Kufic script on the other that details the life of a leather merchant. What is remarkable about this spoila/stele, when considered in a contemporary way, is that it represents a narrative of how an object can hold many lives, many moments, and indeed multiple histories. It also speaks to how contemporary artists use found material, recycle, or repurpose one material for another to meet another means or to form another meaning altogether. 

This exhibition brought artists together who themselves have layered cultural histories. The intent was to open up dialogues around failures of multiculturalism, nuances of identity, conceptual practices, rigorous thought, and work by artists who live both in Canada and abroad. 

Jaret Vadera

This, That, and the Third, 2017

Courtesy the artist

Jamelie Hassan, Bench for Córdoba, 1981 and Untitled, 1966-2017

Courtesy Museum of London, ON

Sameer Farooq, Pouf, Sausage, Weight, Arc, 2017

Sukaina Kubba

A History of the Defeated, 2017


Courtesy the artist

Catalogue (available at the Aga Khan Museum bookstore), published by AKM, designed by Chris Lee

IN ORDER TO JOIN – The Political in a Historical Moment, 2013-2015, curated with Susanne Titz

Städtisches Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach, Germany

Gallery Max Mueller Bhavan and

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai, India

Angela Grauerholz, Rummana Hussain, Mona Hatoum, Chohreh Feyzdjou, Astrid Klein, Helen Chadwick, Sheela Gowda, Adrian Piper, Rosemarie Trockel, Pushpamala N., Shelagh Keeley, Ana Mendieta, Jamelie Hassan, and Lala Rukh

This group exhibition brings together women artists born between 1947 and 1957. This frame or bracket of time has been intentionally selected to study the work of artists who were born in a postwar, post-Partition era. We have invited artists that work within a political framework that address nationalism, institutions, and question their own position by creating complicated interpretations that evade easy tropes of legibility. These artists have practices that enter and depart from dialogues with larger encompassing historical movements, yet are not positioned within any. This ‘instability’ is due to the nature of their work or their choice of media and the concerns that have run through their practices; there is the dominance of conceptual strategies and thinking, and ultimately, they are both working with and against the possibility of ‘joining’. We have taken the work of Rummana Hussain (1952-99) as an opening position in order to consider how one responds to a rapid moment of political change. Hussain’s work emblematizes the effect that globalization created in Bombay/Mumbai in the 1990s, leading to a re-establishment of conservative values, traditions and an artificial nationalism with a need to identify an “Indian-ness” to which she could not belong. The title of the exhibition is taken from a residency/exhibition that Hussain held at Art in General, New York, in 1998. 

In creating a historical discourse for histories that are neglected, our exhibition considers the work these artists made in the early part of their career, or the work that represents a turning point. This exhibition touches upon feminism whilst looking at artists’ works that represent a certain social liberalization, emancipation, and the beginnings of global identities. Whether their work can be read as overtly activist or poetic, the positions they begin with are founded in a political stance and space. 

Mona Hatoum, Joseph Beuys, and Rummana Hussain

Photograph by Achim Kukulies

Astrid Klein

Photograph by Achim Kukulies

Shelagh Keeley

Photograph by Achim Kukulies

Posters by Lala Rukh and Women's Action Forum

Jamelie Hassan

Photograph by Achim Kukulies

Helen Chadwick and Rummana Hussain Photograph by Achim Kukulies

Chohreh Feyzdjou and Pushpamala N.

Photograph by Achim Kukulies

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai (former Prince of Wales Museum)

Rosemarie Trockel, Angela Grauerholz

Helen Chadwick

Angela Grauerholz, Astrid Klein, Lala Rukh, and Sheela Gowda in Gallery MMB, Mumbai

Astrid Klein, Rosemarie Trockel