May 23 – August 18, 2019
Featuring the work of Jagdeep Raina, Chase is a poetic exploration of the interplay of memory and migration, and of how both are mapped onto everyday landscapes. Raised and currently based in Guelph, Raina shares stories of the Sikh diaspora, drawing upon personal records and those of his family who were among the first migration to southern Ontario, as well as oral and archival histories of wider pioneering Kashmiri and Punjabi Sikh diasporic communities. Rendering these narratives cinematically as works on paper as well as embroidered tapestries, Raina evokes the textured local and transnational geographies of longing and belonging that emerge in the quest to establish home in terrain that is unsettlingly remote.
Drawing the intimate as well as collective spaces that come to constitute community in new territories, the architectures that hold and shape experiences are his frequent subject – the local homes intrinsic to family biographies, the small beer store that becomes a gurdwara and place of worship for new arrivals, the storefronts and the factories that depend on their labour. For Raina, these are also soft architectures, brimming with poignant struggle and generosity – supple elements that are somehow more material than bricks and mortar. These sites are also potent but ephemeral monuments, like the Punjabi Grocery and Deli in New York’s East Village that is “elevated to the same prominence as the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and Central Park” within the city’s South Asian community yet assured none of their permanence.
Documenting such precarious histories, throughout Raina’s work is a strong current of social justice. Reassessing everyday as well as darkly historical moments, he is attentive to the colonial histories within already marginalized communities, and to how the “chase for more” and the scarcity mentality that it produces can further divide and alienate castes and classes based on economic status, gender, sexuality, nationality, race and religion. Within the context of polarizing discourses on migration that dominate globally, Raina’s work speaks powerfully to the possibility of “intersectional solidarities” based on collective histories of transformation.
Chase is curated by Shauna McCabe and organized by the Art Gallery of Guelph with the support of the Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts.
Jagdeep Raina: Chase | Exhibition Tour, Screenings & Discussion
Thursday, August 8, 2019 | 6 – 8 pm | Free
Exhibition tour with Jagdeep Raina: 6:15 – 6:45 pm
Screenings & Discussion: 6:45 – 7:30 pm
Post-Discussion Q&A: 7:30 – 8 pm
All welcome | Light refreshments provided
On Thursday August 8 at 6 pm, join artist Jagdeep Raina for a tour of the exhibition Chase followed by a conversation between Raina, filmmaker Gurjeet Kaur Bassi and actor, writer, and director Kiran Rai as they present four short films. Addressing the complexity of class, gender, race, and family relationships, the films document the voices and perspectives of women within Kashmiri/Punjabi Sikh communities, highlighting the power of oral histories to capture diasporic stories – narratives often omitted from historical memory. Together, the exhibition and films also speak to the importance of the archive for a diasporic subject. As artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah suggests, “the archive acquires a special poignancy…because it is the space of the memorial. There are very few tangible memorials that say, ‘You have been here.’ And so, the archive is important because it is one of the spaces in which the memorial attests to your existence.”
Filmed by Kiran Rai in 2015, Kirpa documents the story of a young woman who struggles to become an artist as she navigates societal and family structures within her everyday life. Balancing a precarious relationship with her migrant father who drives a taxi to support the family while advancing her artistic practice, the story is a poetic meditation on dreams, desires, and the complexities of the relationships we have with our loved ones. Filmed entirely in Brampton, a large immigrant enclave in the suburbs of Toronto, the film highlights the importance of community and collaboration with respect to diasporic stories.
Stories from Immigrant Mothers documents three interviews, part of a larger project initiated by Jagdeep Raina, Baljeet Bassi and Gurjeet Bassi. Reflecting on the need to document stories of immigrant women of colour belonging to Kashmiri/Punjabi Sikh communities within the South Asian diaspora, they began to document the stories of their mothers – each offering breathtaking insight into the lives the women have led and the stories they choose to share. Building a repository of stories, the project speaks to the importance of oral histories and the impact of such ephemeral archives for the collective histories of communities.
Jagdeep Raina received his MFA degree in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2016 and his BFA from Western University in 2013. He has participated in artist residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Fine Arts Work Center, and the Camden Arts Centre/Slade School of Fine Art. His work has been featured in exhibitions throughout the United States and Canada as well as the 11th Shanghai Biennale.
Image (top): Jagdeep Raina, Final Days, 2019, hand embroidery on muslin, 10 x 12 in. Collection of the artist.