To see and see again: Jana Omar Elkhatib, Alex Jacobs-Blum, Rajee Paña Jeji Shergill, Felix Kalmenson, Jinyoung Kim, and Zinnia Naqvi

To see and see again
Jana Omar Elkhatib, Alex Jacobs-Blum, Rajee Paña Jeji Shergill, Felix Kalmenson, Jinyoung Kim, and Zinnia Naqvi

Curated by Abedar Kamgari

September 4 – November 2, 2019
Opening Reception: September 7, 7:00-9:00 pm

The phrase “to see and see again” (from the Farsi: دید و بازدید) describes the customary practice of visiting one’s relatives, wherein each person is indebted to returning the visit in a seemingly endless cycle of guesting and hosting. In her 1999 memoir of the same title, Tara Bahrampour recounts her experiences of growing up between two different countries, and eventually abandons the comforts of her Western life to experience her childhood home once more. To see and see again explores the artistic impulse, particularly in individuals who have experienced displacement, to want to visit or revisit a lost place of origin.

The six artists in this exhibition take up returning – whether in a physical, psychological, or metaphorical sense – as a creative strategy for making sense of their experiences of displacement. For some, the return is directly connected to the place they were born or knew as a child; for others, it is tied to an ancestral homeland that is further distanced through the passage of time, or is now entirely out of reach. Using photography, video and performance, the artists attempt to recreate accounts of the past in order to reconcile the challenges of the present. Archival materials such as family photographs and home movies, oral histories passed down through the generations, and personal recollections inform the intricate process of navigating longing and belonging.

The projects in this exhibition represent deeply personal, intimate depictions of each artist’s exploration of identity, origins, and place. Yet when nostalgia rubs up against the bitterness of reality, the larger forces that necessitate the movement of bodies from one place to another suddenly become visible. Undeniable are multigenerational experiences of displacement, trauma, and injustice, and the desire to revisit these difficult histories in an effort to work toward a better future.


Auxiliary Programs:

Another retelling to the young
Performance by Jana Omar Elkhatib
Saturday, September 7, 8:00 pm

I See in the Sea a Sea
Performance by Jana Omar Elkhatib
Saturday, September 14, 8:00 pm

Supercrawl Festival (Extended Gallery Hours)
Friday, September 13, 4:00-11:00 pm
Saturday, September 14, 12:00-11:00 pm
Sunday, September 15, 12:00-5:00 pm

Panel Discussion
Conversation between Alex Jacobs-Blum and Jinyoung Kim, moderated by Abedar Kamgari
Saturday, October 5, 2:00-4:00 pm

An Ethic for New Soil
Performance by Felix Kalmenson
Saturday, October 19, 2:00-4:00 pm

Throughout the run of To see and see again, Jana Omar Elkhatib will be a performer-in-residence at Hamilton Artists Inc. Visit Jana in the gallery every Wednesday afternoon (starting September 25) to learn more about her practice and the works she will be developing. Full details available HERE.


Jana Omar Elkhatib is a performance artist and writer based in Waterloo, Ontario. She recently completed her undergraduate thesis year in Fine Arts at the University of Waterloo. Both her writing and performance work explore the reimagining of inherited and collective memory. Jana will be Hamilton Artists Inc’s Fall 2019 Performer-in-Residence. Her short fiction has appeared in the New Quarterly.

Alex Jacobs-Blum ‘s dichotomous relationship being of Lower Cayuga Nation of Six Nations of the Grand River Territory and of German descent raises questions of belonging and relationship to land. Struggling to find a unified sense of identity perpetuates an investigation in notions of authenticity and legitimacy. Through photographic storytelling, Alex navigates personal experiences by challenging colonial structures as an act of self-determination and resistance. Focusing on the territories that have sustained her Indigenous family for generations, photography presents a way of engaging knowledge carried by her ancestors, often denied validity within settler culture. Nationally Alex’s work has been exhibited since 2015 at the University of Ottawa, the Woodland Cultural Centre, Brantford, and Critical Distance Centre for Curators, Toronto. She has facilitated photo and social justice workshops with Indigenous youth at Western University, London and at Centre[3] for Artistic and Social Practice, Hamilton. Alex holds a Bachelor of Photography from Sheridan College (2015).

Rajee Paña Jeji Shergill is an Indo-Filipina-Canadian artist born in Winnipeg, Treaty 1 and currently based in Halifax/ K’jipuktuk. She received a diploma in Textile Arts from Capilano University, a BFA (Interdisciplinary) and BA (Art History) from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University and her MA in Art History from Concordia University. She has participated in exhibitions and screenings in Vancouver, Montreal, Guelph, Toronto, and Halifax, and is currently a member of the Board of Directors for The Great Island Arts Co-operative. Through textiles, sound, and still and moving images, Rajee explores personal memory, familial inheritance, and diasporic subjectivity.

Felix Kalmenson (b. 1987, St Petersburg, Russia) is an artist whose practice navigates installation, video and performance. Kalmenson’s work variably narrates the liminal space of a researcher’s and artist’s encounter with landscape and archive. By bearing witness to everyday life, and hardening the more fragile vestiges of private and collective histories through their work, Kalmenson gives themselves away to the cadence of a poem, always in flux. Kalmenson has exhibited internationally including; Kim? CAC (Riga), Blaffer Art Museum (Houston), Si Shang Art Museum (Beijing), ACAC (Aomori, Japan), Success (Perth), Museum Abteiberg (Germany), Minsheng Art Museum (Shanghai), AGO (Toronto), Aaran Gallery (Tehran), Le Cube (Rabat).

Jinyoung Kim uses time-based media to create her works. Kim’s experience of immigrating to Canada during her youth fostered her motivation to create art works that express perspectives on displacement, of both her own and of others. Kim finds herself located between two realities – one in Canada and the other in South Korea, and Kim’s projects are often bridge that relate the two homes that she grew up in. In her works, Kim have dealt with subjects such as family relationships and places of origin. Her current research interest resides in engaging with the discourse of “place” and how the physical absence and presence of a place affects one’s self-perception. Her photographs and videos combine documentary and fiction in order to form metaphoric narratives that deal with questions of identity, sense of belonging, and relationship between place and self. Most recently, she had exhibited at Maison de la Culture Claude-Lévéillée, FoFA Gallery, Patrick Mikhail Gallery, and Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre in Medicine Hat, Alberta. She has obtained her BFA from OCAD University in Toronto, and MFA from Concordia University.

Zinnia Naqvi is a visual artist based in Tkaronto/Toronto and Tiohtià:ke/Montreal. Her work uses a combination of photography, video, writings, archival footage and installation. Naqvi’s practice questions the relationship between authenticity and narrative, while dealing with larger themes of post-colonialism, cultural translation, language, and gender. Her works often invite the viewer to question her process and working methods. Naqvi’s works have been shown across Canada and internationally. She received an honorable mention at the 2017 Karachi Biennale in Pakistan and was an Artist in Residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario as part of EMILIA-AMALIA Working Group. She is a recipient of the 2019 New Generation Award organized by the Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada in partnership with Scotiabank. She has a BFA in Photography Studies from Ryerson University and is currently an MFA Candidate in Studio Arts at Concordia University.

Abedar Kamgari is an artist, independent curator, and arts administrator based in Hamilton and Toronto. She received a BFA in Studio Art from McMaster University in 2016 and has held positions at McMaster University, Oakville Galleries, and Factory Media Centre. Her research is rooted in exploring displacement in relation to the ongoing legacy of colonialism in the West. Abedar has performed, screened, and exhibited in a range of institutional contexts across Southern Ontario, including at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Art Gallery of Hamilton (Hamilton), Blackwood Gallery (Mississauga), Idea Exchange (Cambridge), and Y+ Contemporary (Scarborough). As a curator and administrator, she has coordinated numerous exhibitions, screenings and public programs including There and Here (2016), Daily Bread (2018), Photophobia: Contemporary Moving Image Festival (ongoing) and Pressure Points: Gentrification and the Arts in Hamilton (2019). Abedar currently works as the Programming Director at Hamilton Artists Inc.

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