Jamelie Hassan at Art Metropole (788 King West), to June 30. 416-703-4400. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Cultural and political critic Ed Ward Said wrote that the West has been under the sway of a variety of false assumptions and distorted paradigms about the East. Images of the malevo-lent Middle Easterner lost in a labyrinth of exotic market stalls, swaying date palms and perfumed harems are based on myths that beg for critical scrutiny. His term for this bias is Ori-entalism, which is also the name of the book he wrote about it.
Jamelie Hassan , who recieved the Governor General's Award for Art & Media in 2001, pays tribute to Said in her Orientalism And Ephemera show at Art Metropole .
Hassan's work unravels often conflicting accounts of family histories and official cultural narratives. In this show she puts overlooked and neglected everyday objects in long white display cases lit by low-hanging lamps painted with Arabic script. The profusion of Middle Eastern artifacts from the artist's travels and personal ar-chives evokes a crowded market stall.
By placing them together, Hassan attempts to suggest a synchronicity between these artifacts, skilfully juxtaposing our notions of tourism, personal history and the collective roots of culture. She's collected antique pamphlets, matchbooks, travelogues, old records, souvenirs and family photos, coffee tins and perfume pots, rec-ords of art shows and performances, and most importantly, a poster for an Edward Said lecture.
Every piece tells a story of travel, cultural assimilation, triumph or misunderstanding, many of which are elaborated on in the artist's notes.
One of the more striking objects is a lovely cocktail dress sewn entirely from a burka. Transforming the fabric once used to render women invisible into an elegant (and blasphemous) piece of party finery is a beautifully subversive gesture that speaks for the entire show.