Quebec - Hajra Waheed

The 2016 Sobey Art Award: Quebec - Hajra Waheed
Hajra Waheed (Mary Lynk/CBC)

The Sobey Art Award is Canada's pre-eminent award for contemporary Canadian art. The annual prize is given to an artist under age 40, who has exhibited in a public or commercial art gallery within 18 months of being nominated. 

Hajra Waheed's multidisciplinary practice ranges from interactive installations to collage, video, sound and sculpture. Using news accounts, extensive research and personal histories, her work critically examines issues surrounding covert power, mass surveillance, cultural distortion and the traumas of displacement caused by colonialism and mass migration. At 34, Waheed received the Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award for Outstanding Achievement as a Canadian Mid-Career Visual Artist. She has exhibited nationally and internationally across North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, most recently including the Gwangju Biennale, South Korea; BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, UK; KW Institute, Germany; Antoni Tapies Foundation, Spain and the MACM, Montreal. 

2016 Sobey Art Award Juror Marie-Justine Snider on Hajra Waheed

"Drawing on her own personal history, Hajra Waheed integrates historical and political perspectives, and with the help of archival materials, invents an imaginary story. Like an archeologist or an archivist, she uses fragments of photos and postcards to rebuild a story in another form. Video, installation, drawing and collage are all mediums used to reconstruct a modular story presented as personal archives. Blurring the boundaries between document and fiction and history, Waheed proposes an alternative history. While internationally renowned, Waheed occupies a rather discreet place on the Quebec art scene. Her nomination to the Sobey short list will strengthen her presence in Canada, providing the necessary impetus to "affirm" her work beyond our borders."

The Art of Hajra Waheed

The Cyphers 1–18, 2016 mixed media installation (found objects, cut photograph, Xylene transfer, glass, ink, printed Mylar and archival tape on paper), 28 × 43 cm each Installation View at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead Courtesy of the artist (Colin Davison)

Hajra Waheed, Our Naufrage 1–10, 2014 gouache on Masonite, mounted in brass and wood, 14 × 17 cm each Courtesy of the artist (Vipul Sangoi)

Hajra Waheed, Asylum in the Sea 9/24, 2015 gouache, graphite, cut-photograph & Dry transfer on Masonite embedded in wood, 11.4 × 14 cm each Installation view at Darling Foundry, Montreal Private collection Courtesy of the artist (Maxime Boisvert)

Hajra Waheed, Untitled (MAP), 2016 infographic print on vellum, 416.6 × 62.5 cm Installation view at Mosaic Rooms, London Courtesy of the artist


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