Passages is a multi-platform body of work that draws from travelogues and memoirs written during the 18th and 19th centuries by travelers from the “East” to the “West.” I am interested in exploring this history for the light it sheds on the emergence of modernity as a global exchange amongst cultures and peoples, and as the cultural/ideological corollary of colonialism. I am particularly interested in engaging with this history in order to imagine and construct alternative presents toward healing colonial traumas. The project includes a series of site-specific collaborative and participatory processes culminating in live durational embodied reading and writing performances.
The first of the series, Passages I: Wonders of the Sea, was performed in collaboration with Heather Hermant, hosted by le Labo at the Triangle Gallery in Toronto and livestreamed in October 2014. Wonders of the Sea is an adaptation of the first travelogue of Europe written in Farsi by Mirza I’tesam al-Din, an Indian munshi, in 1784. Contact between the Persianate world (ethno-culturally diverse societies in south, west and central Asia and west and north Africa where, for several centuries, Farsi was the shared language of cultural production) and the West increased exponentially in this period and deeply influenced both sides. The piece highlights the views and experiences of a pre-colonial subject in encountering Europeans. Wonders of the Sea will soon be released as a video.
Passages II: Inhabiting the North, started from an adaptation of the memoirs of Sayyida Salme (Emily Said Ruete). It was presented in March 2015 as a dinner gathering, interactive performance and conversation, in collaboration with readers Zainab Amadahy and Sarah Abu-Sharar, and food artists Salma Al-Atassi, Claude Awad, Azar Masoumi, women of Regent Park Catering Collective, Johl Ringuette (Nishdish), and Nicole Tanguay. The performance was hosted at Beit Zatoun by e-fagia collective as part of their Decolonial Aesthetics platform, and raised funds for It Starts with Us database in support of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. A video version of the performance is slated for exhibition in Fall 2015 as part of Decolonial Aesthetics exhibition at YYZ.
Passages III: Like Flesh and Blood, is based on an adaptation from the memoirs of Joseph Emin, and was first presented in collaboration with Naomi Binder Wall and John Croutch as a walking tour in May 2015 as part of Mayworks Festival‘s 30th Anniversary events. Like Flesh and Blood was included in an exhibition with the same title at Beit Zatoun and closed with a screening of a full-length video of the performance.
All three Passages will soon be available as art videos. Stay tuned for more information.
I would like to acknowledge the funding support by the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $157 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council, and the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.