October 4, 2017 - Canadian Cultural Centre - Sanaz Mazinani / Sara Angelucci: Piece by Piece
October 4, 2017

Canadian Cultural Centre

Left: Sanaz Mazinani, Conference of the Birds, Amsterdam/ Sidi Bouzid (detail), 2011. Courtesy of Stephen Bulger Gallery. Right: Sara Angelucci, Coppley Patterns (Ascot), 2017. Courtesy of Stephen Bulger Gallery.

Sanaz Mazinani / Sara Angelucci
Piece by Piece
September 21–November 12, 2017

Canadian Cultural Centre
130, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
75008 Paris
Hours: Monday–Friday 10am–6pm

T +33 1 44 43 21 90

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Curators: Catherine Bédard and Stephen Bulger

Special opening from 10am to 6pm on Saturday, September 23 as part of the Semaine des Cultures Étrangères, and on the weekend of November 11 and 12 upon the Paris Photo event.

2017 marks the 150-year milestone of the Canadian Confederation. For that occasion, the Canadian Cultural Centre has initiated a reflection on one particular dimension of the Canadian national identity: the diversity generated by immigration. Together with the First Nations (indigenous peoples) and the so-called “founding” peoples (from the era of the French and English colonies), immigrant communities, that arrived throughout its history and to this day, form another stem of the variegated population of Canada.

Piece by Piece offers a reflection through two artistic practices which confer powerful symbolic meaning to concrete action—the worker’s gesture, activist action, the act of piecing together, of assembling and gathering, of composing unity from a set of diverse but complementary pieces. And the homophonic idea of “peace” rings like a possible alternative to the title, as an ideal result of the action.

This exhibition brings together the work of two artists, one of whom is a New Canadian, while the other was born in Canada to a family of New Canadians. Piece by Piece refers to local and global sociopolitical stakes, to artistic practice in general, as well as to the works of both artists in particular whose combined projects offer an original dialogue about our mosaic-like world.

Iranian-born Sanaz Mazinani emigrated to Canada as an adolescent at the end of the 1980s. Reacting to sanctions against Iran that made it difficult to access trustworthy information about her homeland through mainstream media, she turned to the internet and began collecting news images and articles about Iran, building an archive of over 60,000. This collection has come to define a certain sociopolitical and media image of Iran. Mazinani uses digital methods to individually alter these photographs by replicating and mirroring them into elaborate patterns reminiscent of Persian ornamentation.

Mazinani’s series “Conference of the Birds” refers to the celebrated literary masterpiece of Persian literature by poet Farid ud-Din Attar, commonly known as Attar of Nishapur. Written in 1177, this poem is a fable about how the birds of the world, guided by a wise hoopoe, launch upon a quest to find their king, the legendary Simorgh. At the end of an epic journey through the seven enchanted valleys, only 30 birds remain and they discover in the end that they and their king are one in the same. This “Conference” is a poetic expression of the mystic path of Iranian Sufism, a theory that God is not external or above the world but present within its totality. For Mazinani, this reminder to look at what connects us is a key element of the Occupy movement, an international socio-political movement against social inequality and lack of “real democracy” around the world. Conference of the Birds (2011-2012) brings together popular images of the Occupy Movement in the West with those of the Arab Spring in the Middle East. “By literally placing images of these two distinct movements next to one another, and digitally recombining them into patterns that entwine, I have bound the people in these movements together. To me these patterned works become a symbol for the global relationships between the public. Repetition and reproducibility empowers images with the ability to construct and define history. With this work, I aim to use the semiotics of pattern to reflect upon the possibilities of coexistence in a globalized world.”

Born in Hamilton to Italian immigrant parents, Sara Angelucci approaches this issue of coexistence in the more restricted, almost family-like setting of a local company. In the Piece Work project, Angelucci revisits her mother’s history as a garment worker at Hamilton’s Coppley Apparel factory. Through photographs, a sound installation and a video projection, Angelucci captures the details and ambience of that factory which, for over 100 years, has served as the employer for many recently arrived citizens from around the world. This business currently employs approximately 300 workers, who speak over 35 different languages.

Although Coppley includes many different departments (such as pattern making, cutting, sewing, and pressing), Angelucci became fixated on the sewers doing piece work, the profession her mother practiced at this very company from 1957 to 1968. Coppley Apparel has been making men’s suits since 1883. Sewing in factories is most often work done by women, and in Canadian labour history this job has most often been the purview of immigrant women. Canadian unions have had a long history of fighting for better wages and safer working conditions. Requiring over 100 pieces to make a man’s suit, like alchemists these sewers transform one element into another: their exacting labour turns fabric into dollars, then dollars into bread. No matter where they are from, what language they speak or what religion they practice, these immigrant women are united by their labour and embody a a no less significant form of political activism, neither media hyped nor spectacular, but deeply engaged in social solidarity cemented in the alliance of communities.

This exhibition has received the support of the Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto, and of the Art Gallery of Hamilton.

Press: T 01 44 43 21 90 / presse [​at​] canada-culture.org

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Piece by Piece
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