Hajra Waheed

Hold Everything Dear



Hajra Waheed is a Canadian multidisciplinary artist based in Montreal. Waheed translates research and observation into works that explore the 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.

Entitled Hold Everything Dear, this new project takes a single visual form – the spiral – as a poetic starting point to reflect on processes of upheaval in human experience. For Waheed, the spiral visualizes ascent and descent, growth and decay, evoking both vital forms in nature as well as notions of flux inherent in forced displacement and political turmoil. Moreover, the exhibition’s title makes direct reference to a collection of essays on survival and resistance by British art critic and novelist John Berger. In part inspired by Berger’s texts, the works act as meditations on undefeated despair and the possibilities of radical hope.

Waheed’s most ambitious project to date, the exhibition brings together over 100 small-scale individual works on paper, a series of clay objects, a video installation and kinetic sculpture to form a web of interconnected studies. Combining the handmade with mathematical precision, the works, inspired by subjects as diverse as night skies and the world of plants, also encompass intimate paintings on tin, collages and moving images.

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