Shifting Gestures

2016-17

 

Two channel video installation, 5 mins 31 sec. 

Utilizing strategies from anthropological and documented film, the artist investigates the themes and issues implied by visual and institutional structures which seek to archive and preserve culture, specifically intangible cultural heritage as defined by UNESCO. Juxtaposing herself and her father in a mirrored, two channel video work, a coffee grinder is utilized by father and daughter to perform a ritual that produces aromatic grind for a rich, thick blend most commonly referred to as ‘Turkish coffee’. This tradition is known to symbolize “hospitality, friendship, refinement and entertainment that permeates all walks of life” (UNESCO), an intimate signifier of community, welcoming, and celebration. 

Referencing her own family’s history of displacement from Bosnia to Canada, the artist seeks to investigate these intangible rituals which function as mesh for communal living in multi-ethnic cities. The daughter figure mimics the mirrored performance guided by parental instruction, while the father figure details the personal narrative and history of the ritual and technique, subtitled to translate the proposed knowledge to outsiders and potential ritual transmitters. The gestures which operate the grinder become enlarged and focused to reference instructional video. The installation of the mirrored videos in a corner of the gallery function to create a triad, a third space for the viewer to enter this dialogue as a witness of and possible future participant in this cultural exchange. The generational gap visualized instigates a dialogue on the laboured acquisition of heritage as well as the increasingly obsolescent nature of intangible cultural practices in a displaced and globalized world. 

 
 
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