Generation: Sawsan AlSaraf, Tamara Abdul Hadi, Sundus Abdul Hadi

Jepson Center May 26-September 10, 2017

Generation is an exhibition that brings together two generations of Iraqi-Canadian women artists—mother Sawsan AlSaraf and her daughters Tamara and Sundus Abdul Hadi—offering a dialogue between their artworks as to how three members of the same family respond artistically to complex themes of representation, identity, and displacement in a contemporary global world. Each artist works from a very idiosyncratic point of view and preferred artistic media, yet together they cross-pollinate, collaborate, and synthesize ideas as common belief systems experienced in their lifetimes.

Collectively, the presentation explores the complexity of ‘minority’ communities, and specifically Arab communities, that are often simultaneously subjected to both stereotyping and underrepresentation. As diasporic artists, the movement of people through space and time—and how the complex creation of such is sometimes controlled by systems (political, social, cultural) beyond one’s own power—is important personal territory to explore.

The result is an exhibition that bridges our connections with others, focusing on humanity as the unifier.  All three artists are collaborators as part of the Diasporic collective called We are the Medium, founded and activated by a complex group of visual and performing arts. The Medium’s goals are to offer voice to and aid in the cultural representation of the “other”, and constructing the identity of the ‘new citizen’ in a world of displacement – the people of Internationality.

The exhibition is accompanied by a musical performance by Hobson Jobson—a project of solo hip-hop recording artists Narcy and Omar Offendum—who will look to re-interpret some of Kahlil Gibran’s greatest works, paying homage to the artist and author, while weaving the works in a show that blends hip-hop, jazz, and classical poetry.


About the artists:

Sawsan AlSaraf (Canadian, b. Iraq, 1954) lives and works in Montreal, Canada, and Amman, Jordan. AlSaraf has moved between the Middle East and North America since 1977. She holds a BFA in Studio Art from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, and an MFA in Visual Art from Vermont College of Fine Arts, USA. A visual and multimedia artist, AlSaraf draws her references from her life experiences as an expatriate Iraqi woman. Juxtaposing these references with her critical analyses of notions of home, belonging, and identity that have developed from a life in Diaspora, and that emerge from the current discourse on global displacement and mobility.

Tamara Abdul Hadi (Iraqi-Canadian, b. U.A.E., 1980) lives and works in Beirut, Lebanon. Tamara Abdul Hadi is an independent photographer, born to Iraqi parents in the UAE and raised in Montreal, Canada. Abdul Hadi’s work explores the complexity and idiosyncrasy of minority communities that are often subjected to stereotyping and underrepresentation interchangeably. Her work also touches on ideas of masculinity, self-representation, and social justice. Abdul Hadi is a founding member of RAWIYA Collective, a photography co-operative of female photographers in the Middle East.

Sundus Abdul Hadi (Iraqi-Canadian, b. U.A.E., 1984) Lives and works in Montreal, Canada. Sundus Abdul Hadi is an Iraqi-Canadian multimedia artist. She was born in the UAE, raised and educated in Montreal, where she holds a BFA in Studio Arts and Art History and is currently completing a Masters in Media Studies from Concordia University. Her work is a subversive and sensitive documentation of current crises in the Middle East, often using manipulated photographic imagery, mixed-media painting, artist books and sound. Alongside her studio practice, Abdul Hadi also curates exhibitions, and hosts “The Groundbreakers”, a radio show about art and culture on CKUT 90.3 FM in Montreal.


Sundus Abdul Hadi
Excerpted pages from Souls Land Closing, 2010
Unique artist book, canvas, acrylic, photography
14×14 inches
Courtesy and copyright the artist

Tamara Abdul Hadi
from her Flying Boys series, 2008-2015
Digital photography, dimensions variable
Courtesy and copyright the artists

Sawsan AlSaraf
Weightlessness 2, 2012
Digital photograph installation, 78×35 inches
Courtesy and copyright the artists