Saturday, February 23, 2013

Works that address personal, cultural and national identity formation

Born in Calgary, Canada, Hajra Waheed was raised within the gated headquarters of Saudi Aramco, among the world’s largest transnational oil corporations. She later joined the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on scholarship, and was awarded the Anna Louise Raymond Fellowship upon completing her BFA in 2002. The artist went on to do a Masters and also pursued a doctorate at McGill University.

Over time she has dedicated both her visual and written work to deconstruct corporate gated communities and their peculiar expatriate experience, encompassing a wide array of issues ranging from security and surveillance to the construction of identity and her own relationship to and experiences of war.

Much of the artist's earlier works namely ‘The Anouchian Passport Portrait’ and ‘Swimming Pool’ have been centered on memory and the relationship it shares with photography apart from use of the medium in the mis-identification or perhaps further identification of individuals and also groups of people experiencing pangs of migration. Drawing from her personal experiences between the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia and India, she grew up well aware of different complex lived cultural experiences amounting to exclusion, privilege as well as difference.

Her works explore these even while seeking to address specific personal, cultural and national identity formation in context of popular imagination, current political scenario, history, and also the broader impact of American culture and power in today’s global situation.

Hajra Waheed has exhibited her mixed media works regularly in shows hosted at prestigious venues across north America, in Asia, the Middle East and Europe, including shows ‘Remembering Memories’ Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, Chicago; ‘Nannima, 1948’ SAVAC, Toronto; ‘How Nations Are Made’ Bradford Museums, UK; ‘Drawing Form’ Green Cardamom, London; ‘(In) The First Circle’ Tapies Foundation, Barcelona, ‘Lines of Control’ VM Gallery, Karachi; The Third Line, Dubai and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, NY in 2012.

Her artworks are housed in several renowned permanent collections like the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York, the British Museum, London and the John Jones Collection.

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