First CEREV Curatorial Fellows begin projects

CEREV is pleased to welcome our first two semester-long curatorial fellows, Dr. Sharon Gubbay-Helfer (Concordia University), and Ph.D. student Megha Sehdev (John’s Hopkins University). Below are brief summaries of their projects.

The Scene of Domesticity in South Asian Photography (Megha Sehdev)

Image from: Blue Book, by Dayanita Singh














Domestic violence in South Asian communities is often linked to spatial rights, or women’s location in homes over which they have little control. While photography plays a crucial role in documenting gendered boundaries, it also captures contingent aspects of domestic life. In doing so it enables us to picture domestic possibility. In her work at CEREV, Megha Sehdev will explore contemporary South Asian photographs for how they visualize gendered domesticity, specifically tensions in photographs that evoke forms of violence and dwelling, confinement and transformation. Further, she asks how contemporary aesthetics of domestic space – focusing on suburban isolation, commodity objects, and everyday monotony – lend themselves to a politics of dis- or reengagement. Sehdev’s project explores large-scale documentary photographs as sites for virtual immersion in public settings, as part of a larger dissertation project examining encounters between urban activists and South Asian domesticity in both India and Canada.

Co-creating a safe space for being present to difficult knowledge: exhibiting material from the Palestinian Canadian life stories project (Sharon Gubbay-Helfer)

Despite media attention and heated discussions, the Palestinian Canadian community is one whose identity, preoccupations and specific histories are not widely known in Montreal. Based on material gathered as part of the “Palestinian Canadian life stories” special project within the larger project “Life Stories of Montrealers Displaced by War, Genocide, and other Human Rights Violations”, Sharon Gubbay-Helfer will work to create an exhibit based on a sense of welcome and respect, a “safe space” for those whose stories are part of the exhibition and for those who will view it. She will draw on her experience with and study of dialogue, including involvement as a Jewish participant in Israeli/Palestinian dialogue in Montreal. Having encountered resistance on both sides, Gubbay-Helfer has come to understand that the life experience of the other tends to constitute “difficult knowledge.” She plans to work collaboratively, inviting both Palestinian interviewees and potential audience members from the Jewish community into the planning process. The exhibition will also include reflections on her own journey through the project.

Co-sponsored by the Montreal Life Stories Project, the CEREV Curatorial Fellows Program aims to support researchers working with painful, contested historical and cultural subject matter use curatorial strategies to communicate their insights to public audiences.

Center for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence