Friday, September 22, 2017

UNDOCUMENTED in (Chinatown) Remixed

UNDOCUMENTED is a series of paintings of specific artifacts from the Victoria & Albert Museum collections, more specifically, objects whose records and provenance documentation are missing or incomplete. Displaced from various places of origin, these objects have been re-organized in Western institutions in ill-fitting categories without social & historical context. UNDOCUMENTED stylistically references the miniature painting traditions of the Middle East and South Asia to elevate and re-situate these artifacts in contemporary social contexts outside the museum.
The specific information that is lost or erased from museum records is relevant, too: it is rare for the makers of typically gendered forms of production (such as pottery or embroidery) to be remembered, so the ‘Maker: Unknown’ field becomes a memorial of sorts to under-recognized art forms and all their unrecognized creators. 

These paintings are currently being shown in Shiraz Food Market as part of (Chinatown) Remixed, an annual Ottawa art festival that places local artists' work in community spaces. Shiraz is a particularly rich site of meaning for these de-contextualized and re-contextualized objects. Among the tea, dates, and nuts, they become again what they were once meant to be: objects that enact spirituality through their use and creation, objects that enable meditative creation through practiced forms of making. 
These paintings will be shown until October 16th (at the earliest) Shiraz Grocery is at 725 Somerset street W. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Work in Progress

Working Through the Aftereffects of Sykes Picot Balfour Et. Al
(a work in progress, appropriately enough)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

New Project- Earthenware

Created in conjunction with the Montreal Museum of Fine Art. Sneak peek here. The video is password-locked: to view, please email me at pansee [dot] atta [at] gmail [dot] com

'Earthenware' is a a series of six short animations, each of which is inspired by a specific object in the Montreal Museum of Fine Art’s collections and archives. This project, as with much of my previous work, considers questions of collection and colonization, ‘High Art’ versus ‘craft’, and the links between the objects and the places in which they are produced. The animations are shown in three pairs: in each pair, one is based on an object from the European collections, and one from the Muslim world (primarily from Egypt, my own place of national origin). 


Thursday, December 3, 2015


Migrations. Mixed media on cradled wood panel.

I think about all those who have been displaced, dislocated, re-located, and misplaced. I think about all the routes they took to get to where they went, and how they got there and found a place that was entirely different than the one the map suggested. I think about those who never got to where they were going, and those who never found a place to go.
I think about these things and it occurs to me that these routes are neural systems, electric pathways along which joy and agony can travel.
I think of these things, and I think of home.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hair Lines

(click to view full size)

One of the sites where the politics of inclusion/exclusion are felt most keenly is the border. It is there that all the intersections of race/class/gender/coloniality merge to a single, crucial instance, and through the omnipresent eye of surveillance, are reduced to a pass/fail system upon which survival can depend. To pass, the body must become undressed: you remove those articles of clothing that mark your difference, and regardless, mechanized scanners can see through them, right through your skin, your organs, down to your bones. This act of undressing reveals the ways that colonial systems mark racialized bodies with both fear and desire: they are necessary resources that carry a threat inside them, an excess that threatens to spill out at any moment.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


(click to view full size)

This piece is a response to the exhibit Cairo Under Wraps, which displays a collection of delicate fabric sherds dating back several hundred years, which were collected by the ROM's founder, C.T. Currelly, in the mid-nineteenth century . The exhibit boasts that the ROM is one of few world-class institutions with the resources to preserve such a collection. This assertion seems self-evident, but falls apart at closer examination: after all, these sherds successfully survived for centuries in Cairo before Currelly ever received them! The causal chain that results in the need to 'preserve' the object is reversed entirely: it is the excavation of the 'valuable' object that necessitates the institution that 'preserves' it. What would have been lost if it was never un-buried, but its value to its collector? After all, don't we bury the things we value to protect them? Who, really, is better at preservation than the earth itself?