Artist uses ce­ram­ics to com­ment on Islamophobia at new ex­hibit

Adap­ta­tion will be on dis­play at the Her­mes Gallery in Hal­i­fax un­til June 24

StarMetro Halifax - - COVER STORY - Silas Brown FOR STARMETRO Ghanie re­sponds to the cri­tique at thes­tar.com/hal­i­fax

Kaashif Ghanie has never wanted to be an ac­tivist, yet he cre­ates art that is in­her­ently po­lit­i­cal, us­ing ce­ram­ics to cre­ate a sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ence.

“They cre­ate that sort of sen­sa­tion,” Ghanie said of the pieces in his se­ries Adap­ta­tion, which will be dis­played at Her­mes Gallery in Hal­i­fax un­til June 24.

“It’s not bla­tant, it’s not ac­tivist in-your-face, but through the nar­ra­tives and through read­ing the ti­tles of the work, it’s im­mer­sive. So you’re bla­tantly see­ing all those things come to you, slowly but surely. As you walk around and are in their pres­ence, you get that sen­sa­tion.”

Ghanie cre­ated the se­ries of ves­sels dur­ing a nine-month res­i­dency at the Cen­tre for Craft Nova Sco­tia, play­ing off of the forms of tra­di­tional Is­lamic ce­ramic pots. Each piece has an el­e­ment of scar­ring or mu­ta­tion to demon­strate

the ef­fect of Islamophobia in a di­rect and sen­sory fash­ion.

“What I ini­tially tried to do, each ves­sel I look at as like al­most like a hu­man be­ing, or their own rep­re­sen­ta­tion of one be­cause big pots kind of com­mand a pres­ence,” he said.

“So I kind of look at them as fig­u­ra­tive in some ways. So

through that, they rep­re­sent a hu­man be­ing, and each one has their own form of scar­ring or mu­ta­tion to adapt to the cli­mate of what’s go­ing on so­cially, po­lit­i­cally with racism.”

Ghanie, who is orig­i­nally from Lon­don, Ont., said he dis­cov­ered ce­ram­ics near the end of his de­gree at the Nova Sco­tia Col­lege of Art and De­sign and got “hooked” on the feel­ing of throw­ing clay on a pot­ter’s wheel.

As a child he had al­ways been fas­ci­nated with car­toons and al­ways wanted to pro­duce his own fig­u­ra­tive work.

“I wanted to be an an­i­ma­tor when I was lit­tle. I loved car­toons, anime, et cetera. And be­ing in­tro­duced to Is­lam and learn­ing about the cul­ture ... you’re not al­lowed to do fig­u­ra­tion in work, you’re not sup­posed to cre­ate any of that stuff,” Ghanie said.

Each of the five pieces be­ing ex­hib­ited are in some way per­sonal his­to­ries. One of the pieces, called Oint­ment, rep­re­sents the burn Ghanie suf­fered on his leg when he was a child, and the racism he and his mother faced while try­ing to get treat­ment.

Ghanie said some of his work has pro­duced re­ac­tions that are sim­i­lar to the themes he is ex­plor­ing.

After ex­hibit­ing at a show near the be­gin­ning of the year he saw a re­sponse from a per­son on­line that crit­i­cized his po­lit­i­cal use of ce­ram­ics.

SILAS BROWN FOR STARMETRO HAL­I­FAX

Kaashif Ghanie says each of his ce­ramic pots in his ex­hibit is “al­most like a hu­man be­ing.”

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