(Géoportait) Naître personne

March 4 – April 29, 2023
Opening reception: Saturday, March 4, 2023 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Hédy Gobaa:(Géoportait) Naître personne

Text by Hédy Gobaa

For this exhibition, I wanted to find the coherence of a life shared between different geographies from Tunisia to Canada. Intertwining the imagery of here and there, I ask myself what inside of us makes us alike a city, what is being built than remains. Is it us who occupy places or rather them that occupy us? The title Geoportrait is a term that combines “geography” and “self-portrait”. It describes the way that individual identity is shaped by our relationship to space.

The theme of the exhibition also comes from the observation of this back and forth between crowds of confused identities, as if the body was a cloak furrowed contrary currents. Always living elsewhere, I had to be reborn and disappear successively. In the experience of migration, whatever the age, whatever the past, there are as much reappearances as there are losses of self.

By juxtaposing the paintings of three series the exhibition suddenly evokes immigration, but above all human destinies, the political complexity of the world, the reality of differences, the impossible appropriation of territory. It seeks to draw a portrait of a contemporary world where the human figure is absent, but which we grasp in its desire to inhabit, to imagine, to locate.

The paintings in the series The Narrow Side of Distance were created from hyperrealistic photomontages combining fragments of landscapes from Tunisia and Quebec. The West is represented by references such as a bulk carrier (a carrier boat on the St. Lawrence), a cottage, snow, and this is grafted for example to the vegetation of southern Tunisia, the desert. The crazy Western power disrupts the world socially, economically, ecologically, and sometimes destroys it.

The series Dwell, as for it, refers to the urban extension of Tunis which always progresses towards somewhat wild and abandoned areas. The series deals with the idea of the transformation of unoccupied land into settled and standardized places. It is a metaphor for the effort of domestication that I was confronted with when I arrived in Canada, but also of a dialogue between the self and the elsewhere, between the being and the anguish of emptiness.

Finally, the Thousand Nights series evokes the political reality of the Arab world. It proposes a poetic reading of the situation of the people living there, indicating anxieties, but also the instinct of resilience and joy. For this, the paintings rely on an evocative iconography: the backhoe that destroys without ever finishing anything; the stray dogs and cats, resilient companions; the lion, figure of arbitrary domination, the struggle; the mosaics of public and private spaces; the head of an ox, an animal consumed or sacrificed religiously, a symbol of the Arab revolution, for me.