fools in paradise

over the course of 2021, i am creating a site-responsive analog/digital archive about gender, land, and art. the work takes shape over a year long season-based artist residency at fool's paradise. situated on a cliff that overlooks bellamy creek’s ravine and lake ontario at scarborough bluffs, fool’s paradise was built in 1940 by canadian landscape painter doris mccarthy (1910-2010) as her studio and residence.

my project focuses on land, gender, racialization and art-making as they affect and unfold in the life of artists. i put my own life in conversation with mccarthy’s, and i have conversations with other ibpoc artists. these conversations will become available as a limited series podcast.

the year 2021 marks thirty years since my arrival in tkaronto as a refugee. my training began in iran, and continued in the u.s., where I never gained legal status. but my art practice has taken shape in tkaronto under conditions of exile and in dialogue with diverse racialized and/or displaced communities.

although our paths never crossed until now, some coincidences connect my life to mccarthy’s. in 1961, my birth year, she set out on a world tour, her “long year” of painting, that included a visit to iran, which she documented in photographs.

i left teaching and set out on my first “long year” in 2010, the year mccarthy died. as two women who dedicated our lives to making art, our stories, put in conversation, elucidate much about the conditions and challenges of gender and colonialism in the specific context of art.

in this work, i explore these issues in a broader context. the land at bellamy ravine has a significant natural and indigenous history. it falls outside the original toronto purchase (treaty 13), and is part of the 2015 mississaugas of new credit first nation's rouge tract claim. this means that fool’s paradise - in fact all of scarborough and east york areas of toronto - stand on unceded territory illegally occupied by settlers since they arrived here.

my residency at fool’s paradise gives me a window to the privileged experience of the “canadian landscape.” being from elsewhere and unconnected to any land-holding “canadians,” low-income, female, single and an urbanite without a car, i am curious about the “land” and the “landscape,” both major markers of canadian imagination and art history. my aim is to explore presences and absences and add layers that complicate the textures and colours.