In Ghanouj, Christina Hajjar engages love languages of her diasporic Arab femme identity. Situated at a coffee table, she uses roses, rose tea, and sweethearts through sculpture, consumption, and recitation.
Ghanouj, 2018. Not the Camera, But the Filing Cabinet: Performative Body Archives in Contemporary Art, group exhibition curated by Noor Bhangu, Gallery 1C03, University of Winnipeg, September 13-November 20, 2018. Photos by Leif Norman.
Excerpt of Curatorial Essay by Noor Bhangu
Christina Hajjar’s performance, on the other hand, explicitly comments on the inheritance of past memories to make for an awkward position that obstructs new directions. In her performance Hajjar attempted to digest the Lebanon of her mother’s memories, only to discover that her body is more than its diasporic longing. And she realized, as did her audience, it was through her inability to easily digest (read: inherit) that she was able to make space for her own, unique, story.
Excerpt of “About Inflammation: Skins/scapes and Gestures of Defiance” by Dunja Kovačević
Ghanouj, a performance by first generation Lebanese-Canadian, Christina Hajjar, opened Not the Camera, But the Filing Cabinet. Seated at a small table, Hajjar repeatedly slices a trembling rose gelatin cake, like flesh tearing, with increasing urgency as the accompanying refrain habibi grows louder and more insistent. Meticulously,she carves: removing pieces, abstracting, reshaping, chewing, mixing flesh cake with saliva, spitting kernels, molding. In the end, it spells ghanouj, spoiled brat, in a tongue she inherited, that she belongs to, but is not fluent in. It is an act of reclamation—reframing a word, an identity, from flesh (family) with flesh (hands). Perhaps it is also an act of skinning: peeling back a dermal layer and corresponding identity, re-contextualizing it in the process. This is the work: to take what has been hurled at us, what has marked us, and to find means by which to let it pass through our skin. In other words, it is about what we learn to metabolize.
Daughters Only Inherit the Recipes
For Christina Hajjar
a small stack of books under the coffee table
a daughter’s unlearning
of rose petals candy arts degrees
a foundation of memory only the body holds DNA
the spit of rose fruit flies
liquid release for our grandmothers
are no longer a performance of labour
is pink liquid fragility of inheritance