Opening: Wednesday, January 30, 5-7 p.m.
Runs: January 30 – March 23
Esfahani’s art practice explores the terrains of cultural translation and investigates the processes involved in cultural transfer and transformation. Returning to the etymological roots of translation as “carrying or bringing across,” her work explores ornamentation as a form of “portable culture” that can be carried across cultures and nations. Throughout history, ornate artifacts have circulated amongst various cultures and have been adapted/hybridized within new cultural contexts. Esfahani’s practice questions displacement, dissemination and reinsertion of culture by re-contextualizing culturally specific ornamentation and various collected souvenir objects. Her work aims to open up the third space of in-betweenness and hinges on an act of negotiation; the viewers’ unique experiences and cultures inform their “reading” of the work, thus allowing them to enter the third space by engaging in cultural translation: the viewers carry their culture across onto the work of art and vice versa. As a result, Esfahani’s work also evokes issues of migration as people ultimately function as “bearers” and “translators” of culture in our current globalized state.
Soheila K. Esfahani grew up in Tehran, Iran, and moved to Canada in 1992. She received her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Western Ontario and her BA in Fine Arts from the University of Waterloo. She is an award-winning visual artist and recipient of numerous grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund. She is a recipient of 2016 Waterloo Region Arts Awards (Visual Arts category) and was nominated for the Jameel Prize at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, UK in 2015. Her work has been exhibited across Canada from Vancouver to Halifax and collected by various public and private institutions, including the Canada Council’s Art Bank. Currently, she is a lecturer at the University of Waterloo and is a member of the Red Head Gallery in Toronto.
Soheila Esfahani would like to acknowledge the generous support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.