Soheila Esfahani: The Tool That Could Part Tangled Things


The Tool That Could Part Tangled Things, laser-etched wooden combs, 2023, Soheila Esfahani

The Tool That Could Part Tangled Things
Soheila Esfahani

October 4 – 28, 2023
Reception: Saturday October 14, 1 – 3 pm.

The Red Head Gallery is pleased to present The Tool That Could Part Tangled Things an exhibition of new work by artist Soheila Esfahani.

Esfahani’s practice questions displacement, dissemination, and reinsertion of culture and navigates the terrains of cultural translation through the theoretical framework of Homi Bhabha and the concept of the third space. By drawing on her own experience as an immigrant, her work aims to destabilize the origin of culture and reconstruct Bhabha’s the third space as a negotiated space of in-betweeness and a site of cultural translation, where locations of cultures are negotiated, and new narratives are adapted and hybridized.

The tool that could part tangled things is a response to a poem titled Second Generation in Light Years (Baseline Press, 2022) by Toronto-based poet Laboni Islam. Esfahani uses Google Translate for the translation of the poem from English to Farsi and embraces the inadequacy of the translated text as a way of introducing an element of foreignness. Therefore, the translation becomes “the staging of cultural difference” in Bhabha’s terms, in which the migrant’s struggle operates in a process of transformation and proposes the act of translation as a trope for the act of displacement. In this body of work, Esfahani uses language to dislocate the original and destabilize cultural identification in order to construct a space of in-betweeness.

Red Comb Study I, digital study, 2023, Soheila Esfahani

Artist Bio:

Soheila Esfahani grew up in Tehran, Iran, and moved to Canada in 1992. She holds a BA in Fine Arts from University of Waterloo and a Master of Fine Arts from Western University. Esfahani is an award-winning visual artist and recipient of numerous grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund. She is a recipient of 2016 Waterloo Region Arts Awards and was nominated for the Jameel Prize at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, UK in 2015. Her work has recently been exhibited at the Aga Khan Museum, Canadian Cultural Centre Paris, Doris McCarthy Gallery, Cambridge Art Galleries among others, and has been collected by various public and private institutions, including the Canada Council’s Art Bank. She is an Assistant Professor at Western University in London, Ontario and is a member of the Red Head Gallery in Toronto.

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