Midway through September, certain locations and services on Western's campus were forced to close to the public in the efforts of community health and safety. Among these spaces was the Artlab Gallery, which had just opened the exhibition We Were, And Then We Weren't by fourth-year BFA Practicum Students. In this digital publication, exhibiting student and Artlab Intern Sam Wagter recounts the group's collective challenges during the COVID pandemic: creating work through the summer at a distance, organizing a public exhibition, and then having that exhibition unexpectedly shutter to the public. Wagter also offers useful strategies for cultivating creativity in our present crisis.
Monday, October 5 - 15, 2020
Anahí González, Rebecca Sutherland, Declan Hoy, Tommy Bourque, Faith Patrick
An exhibition of works by the Department's second-year MFA candidates, featuring photography, sculpture, video, and installation pieces.
Sepideh Tajalizadeh Dashti: To Be Me
Monday, October 26 - November 12, 2020
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I will meet you there.” —Rumi
There is something inside each one of us that, sometimes, is impossible to explain and define in precise words. However, this ambiguous something exists and acts. Sepideh Tajalizadeh Dashti, an Iranian woman who grew to adulthood in Iran and who now resides between Canada and the United States, has experienced deep feelings of ambiguity in her encounters with different cultural and social expectations.
Not all diasporas are the same. Not all female experiences of oppression are the same. Dashti’s experience as an Iranian diasporic woman is fragmented along ethnic, religious, social, political, and class lines. These fragments pose challenges to her attempts to bind with others and find solidarity based in multiculturalism and ethnicity. Dashti establishes her body as an integral material in her art practices to make the explanation of her experiences and challenges possible. She seeks to claim her body across multiple media of performance, video, and installation. Dashti focuses on traumas that underscore both personal experience and engagement with larger sociopolitical structures of the phallocentric systems that exist in both her homeland and her host countries.
Representation is a crucial location of the struggle for any exploited and oppressed bodies asserting subjectivity. Dashti insists on reminding us to work against the silence and erasure of traumatic experience. “To Be Me” features contemporary representations of Dashti’s Iranian and immigrant identity formation. Works within this MFA thesis exhibition relay the immense struggles of living between places and cultures. Dashti explores her identity in the hope of calling oppressive authorities into question. Perhaps there is not much hope for a bright future where differences are recognized without eliminating the voices of others. But striving to make this future fosters hope-—both to endure and to continue.