I Learned I Had A Body
Vivek Shraya’s solo exhibition features two recent works documenting her relationship to her own body and connection to her family. The exhibition includes her photography essay Trisha, a series of diptychs with Shraya reconstructing images of her mother from the 1970s. Shraya produced the series in a collaborative process with her peers, a photographer, makeup artist, and hairstylist who transformed Shraya in homage of her mother, a generation earlier.
Shraya’s writing connects the process of making Trisha to her harrowing new work, a video work produced with a fellow photographer, where images of Shraya in both Edmonton and Toronto are overlaid with her own voice, taking the viewer to the edges of her own survival. I Learned I Had A Body stems from an echo in this video montage: “I learned I had a body through your condemnation of my body”, and echoes the evocative line from her Trisha essay:
My earliest prayers were to be released from my body, believing that this desire was devotion, this was about wanting to be closer to god. I don’t believe in god anymore, but sometimes I still have the same prayer. Then I remind myself that the discomfort I feel is less about my body and more about what it means to be feminine in a world that is intent on crushing femininity in any form.
Vivek Shraya is an artist whose body of work includes photography, films, albums, and books. Vivek’s 2017 album with Queer Songbook Orchestra, Part-Time Woman is longlisted for the Polaris Music Prize. Her first book of poetry, even this page is white, won a 2017 Publisher Triangle Award and was longlisted for CBC’s Canada Reads. Her debut novel, She of the Mountains, was named one of The Globe and Mail’s Best Books, and her book, I’m Afraid of Men, will be out in Fall 2018 from Penguin Canada. Shraya has read and performed internationally at cultural events, festivals, and post-secondary institutions. She is one half of the music duo Too Attachedand the founder of the publishing imprint VS. Books. A four-time Lambda Literary Award finalist, Vivek Shraya was a 2016 Pride Toronto Grand Marshal, and has received honours from the Toronto Arts Foundation and The Writers’ Trust of Canada. Shraya is currently a director on the board of the Tegan & Sara Foundation and an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Calgary.
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