Hajra Waheed

Hold Everything Dear



Hajra Waheed translates research and observation into works that explore links between security, surveillance and the covert networks of power that structure our lives, while also addressing the traumas of displaced subjects affected by legacies of colonial and state violence.

Waheed’s most ambitious project to date, Hold Everything Dear takes a single form — the spiral — as a starting point to reflect on processes of upheaval in human experience. Partly inspired by a collection of essays on survival and resistance by art critic and novelist John Berger, the works act as a meditation on undefeated despair and the possibilities for radical hope.

Combining the handmade with mathematical precision, the exhibition brings together new works including a major site-specific installation, over 100 small-scale individual works on paper, a series of clay objects, a video installation, and sculpture. The works draw on spiraling patterns found in both natural and sociopolitical structures, from the miniscule to the monumental, from calm to chaos, and storm to sea. Together, they chart a course of exploration that reflects upon how we exist within and navigate these structures.

Many of the works visualize modes of resisting and overcoming tides of violence and despair, in various intimate, powerful ways. Some evoke ruptures or transference from one state of being to another, such as a collection of miracle fruit seeds, which have the capacity to change sourness to sweetness. Other works challenge our perceptions; a video work consisting of starling murmurations, seemingly monolithic at first, reveals upon closer observation a kaleidoscopic collective of individuals. Using the ordinary as a means to consider the profound, and landscape as a medium to transpose human struggle, the works, at times punctuated by prose, slip between investigating how power relations are imposed and how they may be transcended.

The artist would like to acknowledge Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Quebec for their support of this new work.

Hajra Waheed (b. 1980 in Canada) lives and works in Montréal. Waheed has had solo exhibitions at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK (2016) and KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2015); she has participated in exhibitions worldwide including VIVA ARTE VIVA, the international exhibition of the 57th Venice Biennale (2017); 11th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2016) and La Biennale de Montréal, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, QC (2014). Waheed’s works can be found in permanent collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; British Museum, London; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris; Burger Collection, Zurich/Hong Kong; Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi; and the Art Institute of Chicago. She was shortlisted for the 2016 Sobey Art Award and received the 2014 Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award for outstanding achievement as a Canadian mid-career visual artist.