January 16th, 2021

SAAG exhibits focus on humanity

By Lethbridge Herald on October 3, 2017.

An exhibit by eight artists of Iranian heritage titled "where/between" is on display, along with another exhibit, "red rose ad lidii", by artist Jeneen Frei Njootli, at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Melissa Villeneuve
Lethbridge Herald
Who we are, where we come from and what connects us are a common thread between two new exhibitions at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery.
An opening reception for the exhibits was held last Saturday as part of Arts Days.
The first, “red rose ad lidii,” began with a performance by artist Jeneen Frei Njootli on Saturday night. A member of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, the artist created impressions on her body using beadwork given to her by family and friends.
“You think about leaving an impression on your skin, it’s a bit of a violent act, you’re forcing that mark into your skin. But at the same time, it fades very quickly, so there is this sort of amalgamation of the mark but also this transmission of culture and perhaps maybe even a loss of culture as the mark fades through the skin,” explains Nicole Hembroff, the SAAG’s communications co-ordinator.
Originally the beadwork hung on a wall as part of the exhibit. However, the artist has since removed them, their absence making a statement in itself.
“There’s so much in the culture of making beadwork for the First Nations people,” said Hembroff. “A lot of the patterns have been passed down through generations or there’s maybe processing of emotion or grief… so for her protecting those patterns was something that was important to her, but also transmitting them.”
Walking into the exhibit now, what remains is steel panels which reflect faint imprints of the beadwork on her body. The exhibit is also set up to echo the sound vibrations within the room.
“where/between”, curated by Pantea Haghighi, is a collection of works from eight artists with Iranian heritage.
“Some have been displaced from Iran and some are still living there. A lot of them are exploring this idea of liminality or bridges,” said Hembroff. “So what’s resulted is an exhibition that is quite varied but also has a really nice tie throughout.”
“where/between” brings together works in video, painting, sculpture, photography, and mixed media. Some of the artists explore Iranian culture directly, while others explore what it means to be outsiders of one culture living in another.
“Almost as though maybe in some ways they don’t belong to Iran anymore but that they maybe don’t belong to the places they’re living now either, and where does that sort of between exist and how do they form cultural connections in that in-between space,” said Hembroff.
Contributing artists are Hossein Amanat, Hossein Valamanesh, Soheila Esfahani, Mandana Moghaddam, Neda Razavipour, Hamidreza Jadid, Nazgol Ansarinia and Arash Hanaei.
Both exhibits will remain on display until Nov. 26.
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