Q & A: Christina Hajjar. Discussing the aesthetics of queer diaspora and the everyday.

By Lindsay Inglis, Galleries West, May 17, 2021.

“Queerness has always been to me about rebellion and anti-authoritarianism. When I bring queerness and diaspora together, it feels to me like a homecoming, like a place to transform legacies of violence and my own family histories. To me, queer diaspora is open and poetic and hopeful. Diaspora is a relentless sense of disorientation and displacement, and queerness feels like a methodology to grapple with those feelings.”

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Image by Cyrah Dardas.

SWANA Film Festival: contending with complexities of matrilineal relationships from the SWANA diaspora

By Tara Hakim, Public Parking, March 12, 2021.

“In a time where many of us have found ourselves back home with our families, or far away yet yearning for the safety and closeness of our family that is perhaps not always attainable or found, the SWANA film festival brought a slice of home and contemplation to us SWANA descendents, while simultaneously inviting all viewers to take a plunge into the visceral work of artists whose works illuminate the connected experiences of peoples living in diaspora, and the inherent complexity that comes with it. What does it mean to live in diaspora? How does it feel to continuously grapple with questions of identity, familial relationships, and notions of ‘home’ and belonging that are inextricably bound with the physical and psychological experience of exile, and of being subjugated, generation to generation, country to country, mother to daughter?”

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Not the Camera, But the Filing Cabinet: Performative Body Archives in Contemporary Art

By Noor Bhangu, Dunja Kovačević, and Sharanpal Ruprai, Gallery 1C03, 2018.

Curatorial Essay by Noor Bhangu, p. 4-9.

“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.”

“About Inflammation: Skins/scapes and Gestures of Defiance” by Dunja Kovačević, p. 10-13.

“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.”

“10x Magnifying Mirror: Daughters Only Inherit the Recipes” by Sharanpal Ruprai, p. 24-25.

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

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