To confront a heritage of theft and violence and imagine a future based on equitable grounds, Farooq invites both museums and audiences to exercise their imagination and shift focus toward restorative practices of connection and repair. By foregrounding internal archaeologies and collaborative approaches, Farooq’s work aims to recover true relational forms of engagement.
Artworks have the capacity to work upon us, to facilitate a form of self-realization that can only happen in relation. They can be partners of dialogue, affecting us to our core. As philosopher Martin Buber writes, “That which confronts me is fulfilled through the encounter through which it enters into the world of things in order to remain incessantly effective, incessantly It – but also infinitely able to become again a You, enchanting and inspiring. It becomes ‘incarnate’: out of the flood of spaceless and timeless presence it rises to the shore of continued existence.”13
Art can make us more genuinely ourselves and authentically open to each other if we allow it to work upon us. Museums can provide the space that makes this transformation possible, embracing art’s models of engagement through deep thoughtfulness and meaning making, enabling it to destabilize our assumptions and shift our perspectives.
I require a You to become; becoming I, I say You.
All actual life is encounter.14
1 Martin Buber, I and Thou (New York: Simon &Schuster, 1970), 82.
2 Candice Hopkins, “Repatriation Otherwise: How Protocols of Belonging are Shifting the Museological Frame” (essay published as part of the digital forum Constellations. Indigenous Contemporary Art from the Americas, Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico, October 2020).
3 Dan Hicks, The Brutish Museums: The Benin Bronzes, Colonial Violence and Cultural Restitution (London: Pluto Press, 2020), 212.
4 Hicks, 182.
5 Hopkins, “Repatriation Otherwise.”
8 Dan Hicks, “Ten Thousand Unfinished Events,” in The Brutish Museums, 230–234.
9 Charles H. Kahn, The Art and Thought of Heraclitus: An edition of the fragments with translation and commentary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 85.
10 Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle (Boston: Mariner Books, 2011), 243–246.
11 Griselda Pollock, Museums After Modernism: Strategies of Engagement (Malden: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2007), 30.
12 Buber, 91.
13 Buber, 65–66.
14 Buber, 62.
The artist would like to thank those who assisted in the making of A Heap of Random Sweepings
Installation Poetry: Jared Stanley
Sound Composition: Gabie Strong
Artwork and installation assistance: Nedda Baba, Phu Bui, Corinne Carlson, Pamela Dodds, Forest Kelley, Ante Benedikt Kurilić, Smokestack Studio, Superframe, Lawrence Switzky, Adam Williams, the Koffler Centre of the Arts staff, the Canada Council for the Arts and Ontario Arts Council
is a Canadian artist of Pakistani and Ugandan Indian descent. His interdisciplinary practice investigates tactics of representation and enlists the tools of sculpture, installation, photography, documentary filmmaking, writing and the methods of anthropology to explore various forms of collecting, interpreting and display. The result is often a collaborative work that counterbalances how dominant institutions speak about our lives, taking the form of a counter-archive, new additions to a museum collection, or a buried history made visible. His work has been included in exhibitions at institutions around the world including the Aga Khan Museum (Toronto), the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), The British Library (London), the Institute of Islamic Culture (Paris), Vicki Myhren Gallery (Denver), the Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver), Maquis Projects, (Izmir), Trankat (Tétouan, Morocco), Sol Koffler Gallery (Providence), Artellewa (Cairo), and Sanat Limani (Istanbul). Farooq has received several awards from The Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, and the Europe Media Fund, as well the President’s Scholarship at the Rhode Island School of Design. Reviews and essays dedicated to his work have been included in C Magazine
, The Washington Post
, BBC Culture
, The Huffington Post
, Canadian Art
, and others. He also appeared on the 2018 Sobey Art Award long list, Canada’s pre-eminent art award.
A Heap of Random Sweepings
is generously supported by lead exhibition partner, TD The Ready Commitment and artist support from the Canada Council for the Arts.
Essay: Mona Filip. Design: Tony Hewer. Editing: Shannon Anderson.
Koffler Gallery installation photos: Toni Hafkenscheid
Digital Publication to the exhibition Sameer Farooq: A Heap of Random Sweepings
Presented by the Koffler Gallery, 2021 | Curator: Mona Filip
© Koffler Centre of the Arts, 2021, in collaboration with the individual contributors. All rights reserved. ISBN 978-1-928175-22-3.