Ep. 7: Hasina Kamanzi, Jade Sullivan and Anna Shah Hoque

Episode 7 April 03, 2023 00:48:59
Ep. 7: Hasina Kamanzi, Jade Sullivan and Anna Shah Hoque
To Be Continued: Troubling the Archive
Ep. 7: Hasina Kamanzi, Jade Sullivan and Anna Shah Hoque

Apr 03 2023 | 00:48:59

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Hosted By

Anna Shah Hoque

Show Notes

How can we honour ourselves through art and story? In episode 7, Hasina Kamanzi, Jade Sullivan and Anna Shah Hoque discuss storytelling in its various iterations, and explore its relationship to art, decoloniality, archives and Black and Brown joy.  

They share laughs and stories of how their relationship to art grounds them in their histories, memories and communities. 

Credits: Season 3 graphic created by Hunter Dewache. Custom intro / outro sounds created by Bucko aka Chris Binkowski. Podcast editing is by fin-xuan, with post-production audio work by Nicole Bedford. This season of To Be Continued: Troubling the Archive is generously funded by a Digital Now grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.   

Participants: 

Hasina Kamanzi 

Hasina Kamanzi (she/her) is a multidisciplinary, self-taught visual artist and community organizer. Before the pandemic, you could have found her live painting at your favorite events or tabling at an art market. Nowadays, you can catch her sharing memes on her Instagram stories or giving art workshops via Zoom when she is not painting away her wildest afro-futurist dreams. 
 
Her personal artwork focuses on an optimistic reimaging of the future through exploring her own self and the past, both personal and collective. She was most recently reimagining love for the Ottawa Art Gallery’s “How I Love You” exhibition and the feeling of belonging to a community through the “All Are Welcomed" public art project. 

Jade Sullivan

Jade Sullivan (she/her) is a feminist geographer and intersectional activist currently learning, loving and living on unceded and unsurrendered Kanien'kéha Nation, also known as Montreal (Tiohtià:ke). Jade focuses her advocacy on creating safe and sustainable spaces for systemically marginalized people, using an anti-oppressive, decolonial, gender-transformative feminist lens. She is a storyteller on her podcast My Intersectional Opinion, a Director and Advocacy Lead at Feminitt Caribbean, and board member of Planned Parenthood Ottawa. On her time off she is usually painting, (trying to) bake gluten-free treats, reading or taking cute pictures of her cat, Princess. 

You can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @ohmyjadie.  Her podcast My Intersectional Opinion is on Spotify, YouTube and Apple Podcast and on Instagram at @myintersectionalopinion. You can email her at [email protected] 

Anna Shah Hoque  

Anna Shah Hoque (she/they) is a South Asian-Persian bi-queer femme curator, producer, visual storyteller, educator and SSHRC Doctoral Fellow at the Institute of Feminist & Gender Studies, University of Ottawa. Her dissertation examines the relationship between decoloniality, visual arts and archive-making among Indigenous and South Asian artists and curators in “Canada.” She is the producer and host of To Be Continued: Troubling the Archive, a podcast series that shares stories, memories, and practices of Ottawa-based artists, community organizers and activists. 

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 As you join us for another episode, we'd really appreciate it. If you could subscribe, leave Speaker 1 00:00:05 Us a rating and review. Speaker 0 00:00:06 It helps our podcast get a little bit more visibility. Speaker 1 00:00:10 Welcome to season three of to be Continued troubling the Archive. In today's episode, Hasina Kazi, Jade Sullivan and I are going to be talking about diasporic cells and communities, building relationships that act as bridgework for our communities, and specifically to really lean into black and brown joy and the everyday practices of honoring ourselves through art. Hi everyone. Welcome to another episode of To Be Continue Troubling the Archive. My name is Anna Sha Hawk, pronounced Shean. They a super stoke to have aena and jade with us today. Our episode today really considers, and I was saying this as we were starting it, it's really about all of us sharing tea while possibly having something hot to drink because it's getting cold. Um, very cold. Um, so we're gonna think about everyday stories of making art and building relationships and communities, um, through creative practices in Algonquin territories. Um, we're all actually, uh, currently in Gua Haga territory, but we're gonna talk about times in Ottawa. Um, and we're gonna lean into stories of turning to creative practices, uh, to claim, to reconnect, to make connections in home and in diaspora. I'm gonna ask each of our guests to introduce themselves and then we'll get going. Um, Hasina, would you like to go first? Speaker 2 00:01:27 I can go first. Uh, my name is has, um, I am a visual storyteller, as I like to call it. I use pr. She, her and I operate both in Montreal and in Ottawa. Speaker 3 00:01:39 My name is Jade, she her pronouns. Um, currently during my nine to five, I am a community safe decision, but thing that drives me and that I love to do, I work as an advocacy lead and a director at NGO called Em, and I'm a board of director at Planned Parenthood. Speaker 1 00:01:56 Your pleasure to have both of you for today's episode. Um, I mean, where do we begin? I think the first thing that I kind of wanna just, um, ask each of you to do is just tell us a little bit about your chosen mediums, platforms that you've, you know, you've turned to, to build your practice. Um, I know Sena you're talking about visual storytelling. Do you wanna tell the audience a little bit more about what that entails for you? Speaker 2 00:02:19 For me, that entails telling stories through any visual art I might be, or visual art medium. I might be interested in the moment. Uh, at this current moment it's acrylics, but I've also dabbled in photographing, videography, the watercolors, um, pastels, so on and so forth. I prefer to create art that tells a story I don't really create for aesthetic sake. There's no problem with that, but that's not what I'm inclined into doing. Um, that's why I call my practice visual storytelling. Speaker 1 00:02:54 Who are your subjects of, of, of exploration in your work? Who do you, you want to, you know, who's your target audience? Who do you want to come across your work and you're like, you get it, you get me, or, this is what, this is the story I wanna tell about me to you. Speaker 2 00:03:10 My first audience is always myself. Um, I mostly do portraiture that includes parts of my face completely. Um, but I also recognize that a big part of who I am is my community, so they always make a little appearance in one way or another. Speaker 1 00:03:27 Amazing. Jade, what about you? I know you've been a little bit hush hush on the, on your brilliant podcast projects as well. Speaker 3 00:03:36 Um, okay, so I guess I do like verbal oral storytelling in a sense. It's my Gemini Rising. I love to talk, I just can't get enough of it. I have a podcast called My Intersectional Opinion, where I discuss like a various amount of topics. Honestly, it all sources to home. My target audience is honestly myself. It's just like, um, a verbal diary, if you will. But I always wanna talk about things that I feel like people like myself have, um, questions about or always wanna have conversations or dialogue about that may not be often facilitated in our regular community. So I love to talk about things better, quote unquote taboo, which I don't think are taboo. Um, different angles looking at sex pleasure astrology, looking at, uh, forgiveness boundaries and other basic human emotions. But I also talk about the diasporic cuz I am a part of the dipo. I do a lot of work in the diaspora as well. So talk to my community and see how we feel, how like I can relate to them in kind of a sense. Speaker 1 00:04:35 Tell me, uh, a little bit about like as you're, as you're seeing your diasporic, who are your communities that you claim and that claim you? Speaker 3 00:04:44 Um, my community is, I'm Trinidadian. I'm Afro Trinidadian as well as Afro Jamaican. Um, and recently found out that I have, um, ancestral ties to Granado, which is really cool. Um, but I'm very much a Caribbean girl and, but I feel like my roots spread because again, the Caribbean is so like, um, we are so spread out as well as, um, so we are so influenced by other cultures that I feel like I touch kind of base with a lot of other communities. I think in our last episode we discussed how we both have relations to like a food called Aloha, which is originally in east, uh, southeast Asia or all out, honestly across all of Asia, um, <laugh>, but for some reason on the little island on the coast of South America, I just know how to make it, you know, my grandma taught me how to make it so like, community is a wide, wide, wide region for me. Speaker 2 00:05:35 So my diasporic ties, um, directly to Burundi. Um, I was born Ingenia, but I grew up here for the most part. Um, the community, the bringin community in Otto gets snow is pretty close knit. So I was very fortunate to have a lot of early on experiences with my culture. Um, and I would say the same here in Montreal. There's a lot of undine, surprisingly, so I'm able to keep touch, uh, and exchange with that. Speaker 1 00:06:08 I think you, uh, opened a gateway to actually talk specifically about Ottawa Hasina, like, you know, how is growing up in Ottawa then, like within the, the close knit community, but Ottawa at large? How has that shaped your identity today? Speaker 2 00:06:21 It was, um, a very, it was a dual experience. So on the one hand I had a lot of connection with black people in more specifically Burin Indian people. We had, I would say every other month, at least once a season a gathering. And we were the most advantageous with our gathering, right? So we were wearing all the garbs, we had traditional aronian, drums, playings, we were here to show up and show out, right? But then on the Monday I would go back ho to school where I would be the only black person in the class and suddenly I would feel, um, not as closely related as I had just felt the weekend before. So it was kind of walking between the two worlds. And on one way, in one way I was feeling really represented. And in the other I couldn't see any other examples of myself. Speaker 1 00:07:19 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. Yeah. Um, I think like that split that happens, it's like both like, so joy filled on one hand because you're surrounded by community in like the private spaces and then the so-called public spaces of like being in educational spaces, but also home and community is also educational spaces. Yeah. I, I distinctly remember like, um, going to like York Street School off of like RTO and like majority of my classmates, if they weren't like, um, kids whose parents worked for embassies, they were, if they were from Ottawa or from the nearby region, it was, it was a predominantly white spaces. And so just like the weird coat switching that would have to happen constantly. Jade, what did you come to Ottawa, uh, like for undergrad or what brought you into, into Ottawa up Speaker 2 00:08:08 <laugh>? So Speaker 3 00:08:10 Honestly my undergrad bought me into Ottawa at a lot of us, it does for a lot of us, but I actually had kind of a opposite experience for both than both of you because I grew up or had my high school experience in the Caribbean. So I was surrounded around racialized people all the time. Like it was black and brown people all the time. And it'd be like very odd to see a white person, you know, they'd stand out. Um, but as I came to Ottawa for school, I had like the ultimate culture shock, <laugh>. Cause like, even when I grew up in Canada, I was in Toronto, which was in predominantly black or brown neighborhoods around my culture and community. But this time I came here by myself. So my mom literally did to drop me up and she was like, go ahead <laugh>. Speaker 3 00:08:48 So I was like, um, very shocked at like how othered I felt. I already knew about the concept of being othered or whatever, but I didn't feel it before. I immediately used to say like, oh, now I feel racialized <laugh>. Like now I feel like there's, like I stick out. Um, I feel like I slowly was able to find community in like Ottawa because of a lot of us who have a shared experience of being like, oh yeah, we are not the majority <laugh> or we don't, we don't feel like, uh, we're fully represented in this community. You know? So I have, I have a bunch of friends who are from everywhere, <laugh>, and we made that community in Inu Ottawa and in Ottawa. Um, and I feel like that's how Ottawa kind of is. You have these beautiful pockets of like, these flourishing, uh, communities of, of people that are just like so rich in culture, so rich in knowledge and experience or whatever, doing great things. But in the wider community, when you step out, like it's kind of, it's kind of stark <laugh>. I couldn't imagine going to school though, doing it every day in my teenage experience. <laugh> Speaker 1 00:09:51 Now it steps up. Speaker 2 00:09:53 I actually wanna go. Uh, back to what you were saying about code switching. Um, early on, I don't think that was really my experience. Um, Burundi is a country that was colonized by Belgian people. So we did speak French in, um, at home. So the, in the French that we spoke at home, I could use it in class. So I never felt like a need, just speak differently with my classmate. It's more about, um, like we were using the same words but we couldn't get across the same experiences. So I remember when we were younger, there was this obsession with documenting what we were doing outside of hall. So one semester we would have to write down every meal we would have and I would try to express like that I was eating glee and to me BLE was made from um, some type of flour, whereas for my classmate it was made from vegetables, so it was more like a soup. So I was saying that I hadlee for breakfast and everybody was confused and I was confused as to why they were confused. So despite speaking the same language, we had those like difficulties communicating because of the cultural context that was different. Speaker 1 00:11:05 That's fascinating. Yeah. Um, Jada, as you're talking about like growing up, you know, and surrounded by like black and brown folks, I'm like, what's that like, like I had, like, I have like very few years in like the context of South Asia. Most of it's been in diaspora and I'm like, that is not my majority experience. My majority experience is being like that one brown kid in class who's like trying to explain, you know, what it is that I'm eating or what it is that I'm trying to say or like why it's completely normal to say I grew up, you know, in a household that had like my grandma and my cousins and everyone in the same space, uh, at the every day that it wasn't like reunions. Like when people would be like, I'm going to family reunion. I'm like, what do you mean <laugh>? Like, what is that? Speaker 3 00:11:48 Well, I had like a little bit of experiences element elementary school, I was in Canada, so I kind of had that kind of culture of understanding. But when I went home was like completely different. Like family lives everywhere. Like I lived with my grandma for I don't know how many years. Like community was always a thing. And I think just like the fact that I known that like having community like that is possible. I feel like that's what inclined me kind of when I was in OT to be like, no, I'm gonna find community. Like, I was like, I can't live like this. Like it's, it's great. Like I'm not saying living amongst white people is bad. Personally though, I really enjoy and thrive <laugh> in like spaces where I don't know, I see myself and like I don't have to explain my culture as you guys are both speak, speaking about that, like I've had those experiences so many times where I'm just like having to like break it down into like very simple terms. Speaker 3 00:12:37 And I'm just like, this is, I can't explain to you what this is. This is just what it is, you know. And I always, I find myself like frustrated too, like having to explain like little things that I think are just like completely normal or just like, how am I gonna explain to you what this is? And I just, I don't know, kind of motivates me to kind of find community more just so the fact that I don't have to explain even if the community doesn't like match completely. Like, just like the basics, you know? Like for me, like I'm Trinidadian and I hang with a million Haitians because one, I'm in Montreal, <laugh> two, it's uh, like the culture for those CRI people around me. They kind of understand, you know. Speaker 1 00:13:21 What did it feel like for you trying to find community in Ottawa? Like I know you said you came back for undergrad Laina, you had your own sort of like internal gateway into Burundian community, but then I imagine to a, a larger context of black communities in Ottawa, what does each of those experiences look like for, for each of you? Speaker 2 00:13:41 For me it was a lot of, um, like I had to create those spaces for myself. Um, that's one of the things that I appreciate with moving to Montreal is that there's less pressure on me to create the spaces that I want to see and that I want to be in. Whereas in Ottawa, if I wanted to be in a market, um, at least in 2019, if I wanted to be in the market with artists of colors, I most likely had to start that market with my friends and then it would happen. So the experience was a lot of community building from the ground up, I would say. Speaker 1 00:14:17 Which is a lot of work. Speaker 2 00:14:19 Yeah, Speaker 1 00:14:19 It's a lot of work, Speaker 3 00:14:22 A lot of labor always. It's always labor to make communities <laugh>. Um, I think, I think I let the two phases, I went through the community belly phase lastly, which was like finally made it out. But I think initially I was like trying to assimilate myself back into like, I hate to use this term like Canadian culture, please. You know? Exactly. I do not mean, you know, anyhow, um, like kind of assimilating myself into like what everybody else thought I should behave like or act like or speak like and everything like that. I had to change my accent cuz people couldn't understand me. <laugh>, it was just like it was a mess or a bit. And like at one point I was like, no, this is not gonna work for me anymore. Like, I cannot fix myself into a box to like fix, uh, fit for you guys. Speaker 3 00:15:07 So at one point I started building community, obviously started after I saw a lot of people building their own communities or like, or I saw like, I don't know, there's a few that come to mind, but like, you know, in university you have those groups that are actually doing things like, I think, uh, one of them was B S L A, I don't wanna, one of them, it was like just a black student leader group and it was great. And I used to like, like, okay, yeah, that's how you build community and creating spaces like that. So like I continue to do that. And we did that as well as kind of how me and Anna met. Um, Anna and I met <laugh>, uh, in the Bipo student caucus held by the Ms Engender studies institute. But it was just a space where like bipo students could just come together and like rant and like event or just have questions or actually try to make change. But like most of the times it's just like, oh my God, this week I can't <laugh>. And like just having that space, which is so lovely. So kind of how I made community too. Speaker 1 00:16:03 Yeah. And, and I think like that's, uh, like both of you as you're talking about the, there isn't necessarily one readily built ecosystem to inherit in the context of Ottawa. Like a lot of black and brown labor goes into sustaining, creating and maintaining these spaces. And then there's the void that happens. I feel like it's like a running theme in almost every other episode, uh, of like the, the people migrate out and then you're left with like, okay, well what did, and if you're coming in new or if you're trying to figure out what community even means, um, for you and you want to make those connections, they're not so like, they're not just scattered around like so visible to the eye. Like you have to do so much like groundwork, connections, hopefully make one friend who knows other people who can get you in. And, um, I wonder like for, for you Christina, how has art been a way to make some of those bridges happen? Has it been, uh, especially in the context of Ottawa? Speaker 2 00:17:00 It most definitely was. Um, I will always remember the first art event that I was a part of or that I was invited to be a part of. Um, it was through Maya spo. I always have to give her her flowers cuz she opened those doors for me as she was working at the time with, uh, like a youth activation group. So they were giving out micro grants, uh, for youth to create projects, but at the same time they were building events for youth to participate in and be able to connect with other youth, um, or have visibility. So the specific event that I was a part of was sponsored by cbc, which, uh, was a really big deal for me. Like I had never done anything. I was mostly doing my art for myself and sharing it on Instagram for my friends and families to like keep track of my progress. Speaker 2 00:17:51 And then here I am presented with that opportunity. And at the show I was also asked to speak about my art, which I had never done at that time. I was just posting a little silly picture on Instagram and then leaving. That's the extent of my art practice at this point, right? But then I'm asked, okay, like conceptually why do you do this? How did you get to that point? What does this mean to you? And I had to ask myself a lot of questions, connect the dots, and I was able to present, um, a speech about how actually for most of my life when I was practicing art, I didn't really think of my experience as something worth putting at the forefront. Um, or even as something that could be considered art. It's only relatively recently that I decided to make it art. Um, and I remember being done and just running back to my art station cuz I was also like thinking at that, that event, but I couldn't even make it to my painting. I was like ambushed by like a group of black women who wanted to talk to me about that speech and also had experiences very similar to me and wanted to connect on that front. And that's the moment when clicked that like, okay, there are other people in this city, like, well, we should maybe get together and do something. Speaker 1 00:19:12 Yeah, that sounds so good. Like it's, it's funny, like Jade and I were talking about this, um, a little bit earlier, uh, on another episode, but so much about how social media and like having access to a platform where you can share yourself, your story, your practices where you don't necessarily even label like the, the label of the artist of like being like, I don't have enough of the papers to call myself that. And how like that in itself is so steam. Like a steam, steam might not be the right word for it. Esteemed steeped, thank you. Uh, steeped in like elitist notions of what, like what an artist is and like how at the end of the day it's so much about like storytelling, it's about like making space for your thoughts that like you hold inside the feelings and making it like become more shareable with others who can resonate with it. Speaker 1 00:20:03 I mean, as you're talking here, like I was doing it for friends and family to see updates and how my progress is happening, but even that, like, that takes dedication and craft and patience and practice and so like that you build your art practice through social media platforms is, you know, it it like is such an important sort of conversation to bring into this space as well. Cuz I feel like that becomes one way where we become legitimate to ourselves. Like even the, the title of storyteller, which like, we come from beautiful ancestries and heritages of the queens of storytelling and yet, you know, it's become so unfolded through like cultural institutions that like make you wash through like, I went to this program and now I can be a storyteller when in fact storytelling is the gift that we carry with us. Um, Jade, I wanna go to you and like ask you, you know, you're an incredible storyteller and I both threw, you know, your into stories, but on all of our conversations bring such warmth into the space and I want to ask you how your own sort of career trajectory, how you bring your gift of storytelling into that as well. Speaker 3 00:21:11 I, I think I did not realize that I was storytelling or doing any of that when I was doing it until like, I'm, I just recently was like, hmm, you know what, this is actually something you're doing. Um, kind of a little bit of imposter syndrome. But I think I brought a lot of my storytelling through a lot of my advocacy work and also just to the podcast. So two ways. So advocacy because like, I actually create not only content, but like campaigns or, or plans, programs, workshops, everything, um, based off of stories that I want to tell in the sense that like, I see a problem maybe in our community and I feel like it needs to be addressed. It's not talked about enough. Um, examples of this could be like facilitating space for young queer men to talk about their mental health issues or maybe having, um, different ways to like facilitate conversation about things that we need to be speaking about. Speaker 3 00:22:08 But also in my podcast, I think that it wasn't planned, let's just say this was not a part of the career trick at all in any sentence <laugh>. But I feel like it was kind of like my own questions of the world and also my own concerns. I had to have a conversation out loud and I didn't expect a single person to listen to it. And I still won't expect a single person to listen to it. But just having that space where we can answer questions or just be curious about a topic. Yeah. And I take value in that. So good speaking. It's like a lot of public speaking techniques cuz I used to have a stutter when I was younger, so helps me <laugh>, Speaker 1 00:22:40 You know, brings to light also a lot of like the organizing work that you're doing right? And the backdrops of it. And uh, you know, you're saying, um, like how there's thoughts that run through your mind and you're like, I just, I need this to be out of my body, right? And I need it to be there present regardless of whether there is a, uh, available, uh, audience waiting for it. But you're doing that work and part of it is like also unlearning and learning yourself in different ways, but then making it possible for someone else to witness that journey to, to, you know. Um, and I, it brings me back to a few points that you were saying a little bit earlier, but how the making of community that you might not have even really thought about, like all the ways that you had to build community or all the ways that you, um, you gave in to majority space in order to pro, to protect yourself, in order to be able to get through the everyday, you know, we, we still casually say the word assimilation, but it's like, it's a, it's, it's a necessary skillset when you're black and brown in spaces that cater to whiteness. Speaker 1 00:23:42 And so there's this constant like conversation internally, uh, about like both like betrayal and acceptance. Like there's these cycles of betrayal and acceptance that happen. And I think what you're, what you're talking about through your storytelling is part of that, uh, that sticky process that's there. Um, and like sometimes the conversations that we have with ourselves, our stories, we also want to hear from others. And I think that's what your work also makes possible is that those conversation spaces open up in such a good way. Speaker 3 00:24:13 I think it's like a saying that like, there's no stupid questions or that somebody is always thinking your thought. I don't know if that's the actual saying, but I really think that because like I, I've noticed that like, I'll say something and like just a little mundane thing and they'll stick out to somebody else and i's like, oh yeah, I've also thought about this. So I feel like that's like also my navigation point. Speaker 1 00:24:34 Absolutely. I, yeah, absolutely. I, I think this is it a lot of times where we're like, oh, this might be just a me thing, or this might be something has seen as you're talking about your artwork, this is a way for you to connect to yourself. You make art for yourself. So initially you're like, oh, is this just a self project? But then at the same time, the self is in kin and in relation to everyone else around you to the environments that you're in. And I think there's such connectivity and relationality that emerges through each of your individual practices, through the, the oral storytelling and the visual storytelling. Um, that's super powerful and, and necessary. Speaker 2 00:25:09 That connectivity was very highlighted to me when I started using social media more intentionally to build community. So I remember like after that first show, I was like, okay, I need to do something with this. I know that there's a few of us, maybe there is a lot of us out there who want these spaces to talk about how we felt excluded from art spaces, but still managed to all in love with arts, right? Um, so I would go on Instagram, I would look up like groups collective, and then I would click the down arrow, and then I would have like a be of recommended, I would look through those things. Um, I would find that like oftentimes de Kusa was interested in, had some type of interaction with each other, so it was just like a matter of like one degree of separation before I could get into it. So I thought about that when you said earlier that now that we have social media, it brings up a whole new level of connectivity and that was truly the case for me. Speaker 1 00:26:08 Yeah. Tell me a little bit more about what that journey looked like for you, like in the context of Ottawa and like, you know, it's this, it's a, it's a micro and macro city that like really highlights the challenges of, and I you said it's so beautifully like falling in love with art despite all of the gatekeeping mechanisms that are there, you know, um, I'd love for you to elaborate a bit more on that. Speaker 2 00:26:31 I, um, remember vividly being younger and being very captivated by just visual things. Like I loved looking at things. Um, I went to a school where we had access to some, I would say like a, a medium level of, um, extracurricular activities. And some of them included going out of school grounds to see exhibition and they were geared toward children. So most of the time you have like a part to play in the exhibition, whether it was to try to create your own artwork in the style of the artist we were going to see, or just expressing yourself. So early on I knew that like, doing that things looked really interested me and I was interested in creating something that's nice to look at, but also nice to, um, and peel the different layers of what it means and why it looks the way that it does. Speaker 2 00:27:26 Uh, however, because of the way that I was introduced to art, I was mostly introduced to Western tradition of art. So, um, implicitly I was told that that's the only thing that existed. And I began to thought that that's the only thing that made sense to create in terms of art. So I was reg regurgitating that type of art, even though there wasn't really a connection to my lived experience or necessarily the things that I enjoy. I just thought like, I like looking at things, this is how things usually look, so these are the things that I need to create. It's only when I was, I wanna say third grade. And at that time I had already been creating art like intensely for like nine years that, uh, my friend introduced me to Manez and I was like, wow, this is so interesting. I'd never seen something that was a, like Canadian culture or like as you said, Jade, but we know what we mean by Canadian culture, right? Speaker 2 00:28:29 So I never saw anything that didn't center around Canadian stories. Like <unk> have a totally different school system, um, the way like it's read right to learn in the opposite sense that we would read books, right? So already then I was like, okay, there's a way to make things that is not necessarily just what I'm shown when I go to the gallery, when I go to the museum or when I open books, right? Um, and then later on when I was a teenager, I got to go back to Burundi for the first time since by reading here. And I stumbled across like a few exhibitions. And these exhibitions, um, one in particular was about the life Andy pre colonization. And for some reason I had never thought of that. I had never thought that, like the traditions that I know now have been vastly impacted by colonization. And it used to be something completely different. Like I didn't know that we had, um, something that resembled monarchy beforehand. And just to think that like, wow, there was like Aian king at some point, the horse of the Aian Queen at some point really blew my mind. And that's when I really, um, started the process of rooting my art in myself and in my own stories and my own artistic tradition going back generations. Speaker 1 00:29:54 That's really beautiful. And like such a, um, like it draws attention to how art makes it possible for us to like be exposed to but also learn such complex histories like, but at the same time it can, depending on where you are, it can obscure those complex histories simultaneously. Like it's a, it's a dual project. Um, Jade, what about you, like, in terms of storytelling, and I know we were talking a little bit about this, um, but like the stories that your aunts and grandmas and you know, uh, everyone around you who would share, how did your relationship to stories change as, you know, from, from like different geo contexts? Like what, what shifted or maybe you didn't, uh, tell me a bit more. Speaker 3 00:30:39 I feel like my storytelling, I feel like when I was back home and I'll report to the diaspora back home, um, it, it wasn't really thinking about it as storytelling. I was just like, oh God, my aunts and my mom are talking to me again, again, they're telling me something again. But we're like, my grandma nagging me or telling me some kind of like, important thing, but I should remember, but I will not. But now I think I've learned to value what was storytelling back home now. And I'm like, oh my goodness, okay. As I age too, because I become my mother and my grandma, I am becoming them. I already know that. But, um, definitely just like allowing myself to like kind of appreciate what they've said to me and what has been said in like, just casual conversation as like important deco, uh, decolonial work for myself, but also like the history, like the richness of like oral knowledge being passed down. Speaker 3 00:31:36 Like I a hundred percent value that and I don't think I valued it as much as I have now as I do now. Um, and I kind of like take that tradition of the way in which they speak into the way I story tell now, which is very casual because I've noticed, like I'll say in terms of podcasts, people are very academic, very <laugh>. They're very posh in the way that they speak sometimes or will use very large terminologies or very, or very like academic terms, which I'm very happy with. But I like that they make things very accessible and also accessible to the people that I'm speaking to. So I like kind of know my audience and I'll speak in like a very, um, casual way. I'm not very formal. I like to make things feel like, oh, if you were talking to your cousin or your friend or your sister, I'll like make my little commentary <laugh>. Speaker 3 00:32:22 You know, like I refer to everybody assist because I do refer to everybody as this. Um, I feel like just taking that like very free spirited way, which my people I tend like, tend to speak. Like, I feel like when taking that into my storytelling, I have more of appreciation. Well, I make better connections with the people, people who I'm storytelling with, but also I have more of appreciation for like myself cuz I feel very authentic. Um, but yeah, I feel like my storytelling has gotten even better. <laugh> I would say it's even better, but I don't know. <laugh> Speaker 1 00:32:54 No, I, uh, it makes me think like whenever I'm going out and my mom and I are walking, for instance, she'll look at a plant and she'll be like, this plant, this is something that we cook with. And like I, it just takes me to like millions of conversations that I would have either spoken to me or spoken around me that I just like would become like white noise. I wouldn't pay attention. I would be like, oh my God, here's another story, here's another ingredient for an herbal cure. And like just zone out. And then now I go revisit or I call my mom and like, tell me about that thing you were saying that helps with like growing hair. Like what is it that I'm supposed to be taking? What seed am I supposed to be taking? And so like there is this deep appreciation for the knowledge and, and I think like the fanciest words are like decolonial, but it's like making me want to unlearn the things that I'm like, oh, this is fact. And it's like, no, it's not. There's like a lot of other stories and information buried and explicitly made clear in the stories that our communities each share with us that like just got downgraded thanks to colonial violence, right? It just got displaced out of time and space as if they don't have equal if not more valuable information that carry, that are carried in them. Um, yeah. So I appreciate what you're, what you're, what you're saying, Jade, it's so much. Um, Speaker 3 00:34:15 And I, sorry, just to like comment off on what you just said. I love how like, um, we're now realizing like the inherent uh, importance of like decolonized knowledge or whatever like that, or knowledge of our people. Um, and like it's so funny how like western society is slowly <laugh> stealing it again. I'm like, oh my god. Yeah. Like spirituality <laugh> like, oh my god, like holistic living. So madics, they're giving them so much banton names and I'm just like, listen, my grandma was telling me through that a long time ago, like, those ginger shots, have you guys ever noticed that? It's literally what your, like what their grandma tells you to drink when you're sick, just blended. It's literally that. And I'm like, wow. They take everything but this like, Speaker 1 00:34:55 Grip is turmeric. My grip is so much turmeric. I used to get made fun so badly of like turmeric and my fingernails as a kid going to school, elementary school, middle school, high school, I would try to hide the evidence. Like I remember scrubbing my nails with lemon and lemon juice trying to get the stains outta my nails before going to school. Especially if my mom made like a really nice curry and I, we eat with our hands. And so it's getting into your nails and into a bit of your skin and, and now like turmeric this and turmeric that like, and the fact that in in the quote unquote homeland turmeric is so expensive now that you can't buy for diets that are like, have consistently relied on it as a source of anti-inflammatory healing. Like now again, there's these, and I think you said it on the dot Jane, like there's this taking up all over again. Like there's another loss that's happening that is incalculable, inand, diasporic, you know, languages and experiences. It's like on one hand you're like, oh, turmeric is acceptable. Ginger shots are now the thing to do. But at the same time, like what are the material consequences of this, of this information becoming so normalized in dominant societies? What are the implications, repercussions of it in homelands, uh, in other territories? Speaker 3 00:36:09 No, that's a very, like, I wish they would do a little bit more studying on that. I know they're probably not gonna do it anytime soon, but there's a researcher listening, please. No, but the, I definitely think there's a lot of material impacts on our communities back home, like with obviously with like food and everything, but, um, no, I'll, I'll keep to the topic of food <laugh> and like things like that. I feel like, uh, they're definitely being affected and like the prices are raising so dramatically. I know back home for me, like a lot of people are saying like, food is becoming inaccessible and it's like triple like as we have seen in inflation in our own grocery stores, they're seeing dramatic inflation too and they, they're obviously aren't some of the most vulnerable groups to it susceptible to it. So I'm just like all these great holistic changes we're having in our societies having like grave impacts on our communities as well. So like trying to find the balance of that, like worse when we kind of have like a healthy balance. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I don't have the answer. <laugh> Speaker 2 00:37:09 Literally Speaker 1 00:37:09 Food for thought. You know, <laugh> Speaker 2 00:37:12 Bring it back to um, storytelling. Um, not too proud, but I've always valued way that aunties tell stories I really enjoy when like I was younger and I would go to their houses and would cook and random, we would just go on about how um, today this vegetable was on sale for only 88 cent the pound. I'll be like, oh my god. Wow. Tell me more. I don't know what dollar means because I'm too young, but tell me more about this. Um, I think that's a way of connecting. I really value when people tell me random information about things that they're passionate about or that makes a difference for them, cuz that's them sharing a part of themselves with me. Right. Um, I also, more recently I've been watching a lot more of, um, films and movies that are not from here and that introduced me to different narrative structures that I would've never taught of. Speaker 2 00:38:10 Like, I guess we all have the same experience of being introduced to like, um, the general like element of the story and then there's an incident, incident answering element. I can't remember the terms and then climax and then the end of the stories. But a lot of stories are not like that. Some stories are stories where technically nothing happens, but there's a little twist and that's good enough and that's the story. So I've been interested in expanding my definition of what a good narrative structure is and understanding that conflict or something tumultuous doesn't necessarily have to happen for something to be worth recording and worth sharing. Yeah, Speaker 3 00:38:53 I love that. Like what you just said, like nothing like, um, has to happen for it to be a story. Like that's so true. And I feel like honestly that's kind of like the basis of kind of storytelling as we're talking about it in this context. Like it's just life. It's just us experiencing life and how it happens. It's not that somebody, god forbid, passes away or something dramatic happens to our lives. It's just like, this is the story of an everyday person and this is my story. And I think that's just like such a beautiful thing to see. Speaker 2 00:39:23 There is so much beauty in the mundane. Um, and I really want us to take the time to like recognize it and record it for ourselves. And another do thing that that um, exhibition about the Mon Burundi brought to my attention is that colonization did, um, immeasurable damages to the recording of my country's history. And the only thing really that was left was the lives of rich people. People who, despite all the foreign biological colonization, still had the means to record their lives. But what about the pieces? What about that person who just spent their days, um, selling things at the market, their lives must have had some sort of importance or something that I think we could learn from today, but unfortunately they were not able to record it. So today I think we should do that work preemptively of being able to record our lives and how we view things so that it's not only the people who have so much meaning, but their things remain, uh, that they are the only people who are remembered. Speaker 1 00:40:29 Yeah, that's like, it's, uh, it's kind of bringing it all into like kind of full circle just thinking about who like gets to do art, who gets to create art, preserve art, um, you know, cold memories. Um, and I think that's such a, like, I don't even have a proper word for it, but has know what you just said, thinking about like the maker's aspect of it, like the everyday person who's sewing. I think about bit of risk rich tradition of like quilt making and like the stitch work that goes into it. Those, the, the sort of heritage and the stories that are blend into the everyday artifacts that we have, the everyday objects that we, um, all have in some way or form geographically, they're always different. Like there's for, for for Daces, for South Asians, there's always that ugly blanket on the bed that like someone got from the market that in diaspora becomes like cultural capital, you know? Speaker 1 00:41:20 But if you go into a home and the village is somewhere, you know, every household has an iteration of this fuzzy blanket with some weird print on it that makes no sense. But somehow yet it does. And it's the thread that ties because it exists outside of like sa like official sort of spaces like museums and galleries and like, or really like upper cast people. And I think there's something so important in both of you are saying that are like speaking such truths about like the banal and the everyday and the beauty and the value that's so much tied to like, not the peaks and not the bikes, but literally we live as we do our living. Um, it's, it's just so monumental, um, takes me back to like Jade Jade's conversation and, and our conversation about like how we document our every day. Like I'm a, I'm an Insta story or I have, I have a problem that's not, I'm not so unhappy about, you know, and it's like the most mundane of things and it's the expectation of I'm doing it to witness myself. It's, it's sacred and holy to me and if someone happens to watch it, great, come join me in my every day. But otherwise, this is a project for myself to help me feel more connected to the universe that I've inherited, uh, and the unpacking that's associated with it. So I just, I love that. Thank you so much, Zina. Like so, uh, so beautifully said. Speaker 3 00:42:45 Exactly. I just also wanna go back, jump back onto what Hasina was saying, which was amazingly said, um, as you said, like kind of we are creating our own archives now in a sense, like a similar, um, experience with you. Most of, if not all of my ancestral records are like non-existent <laugh>. Like my, the furthest we can think back to was my great great grandfather and they even got his name wrong when he was transitioning island, so it's not even his real name. It was supposed to be Solomon and they said Sullivan. So my last name's not even my last name, you know, so like the, um, you can't even go back that far into the records unfortunately. So like I kind of feel like I'm making up for that, that lost, that lost knowledge that like a knowledge gap that we have. Not even the knowledge gap, but just like a recording of it. Speaker 3 00:43:31 I feel like in a few years, not a few years, I've been a few decades, what I'm saying is gonna be important archival information for another Caribbean diasporic young person, you know, but like, yeah, I'm filling in the gap of all the things that we've, we've missed. We hadn't have time to fill in or we didn't have the unfortunate means to be able to record all of their experiences and the experiences of our, our ancestors, their communities, how they existed. Even just a picture like <laugh>, honestly, even a picture would be suffice. We don't have those. So like now through our work, we're like storing that knowledge if it's not through visual art, through podcasting, through information dissemination, through our social medias. Just a conversation like, no, but I feel like that's just so golden that you touched on and I loved it. Speaker 2 00:44:22 I totally agree with you. Um, yeah, so I also think a lot about the next brilliant artist that's gonna come after me. And I think it translate a lot in the workshop work that I do. So, um, right now the biggest workshop that I give is a workshop on Z 1 0 1. Um, and I've taken a lot of time building that workshop, but through building that workshop, I was able to meet artists who are sometimes a bit older than me, or sometimes much, much older than me, and have, um, a larger understanding of how z making managed to push forward different types of cultures, whether it is cult queer culture, black culture, punk culture. So I get to have these conversation with them through trying to plan that workshop and I make sure that these histories are recorded whenever I teach this art making. So people know that, um, despite not maybe being the face of the movement, they still have a very, um, big place or a big role to play or a lot of ancestry within that medium. You know, Speaker 1 00:45:30 I love how all of the conversations today really like shine a light on how each of you are building your own archival practices. You know, like a lot of times when we say archives, when we hear the word, it becomes like brick and mortar somehow under some sort of guard. Uh, and like state secrets or state kept narratives and stories. And there's something so important about like stepping away from that model and thinking about how we not only carry our own archives, but how each of us through our creative practices are making it possible for like alternate stories to come to life, to, to also be centered, um, in, in so many different ways. I wanna thank both of you so much for spending time with me today, for sharing stories, for telling us all about your different approaches of keeping stories and building stories and honoring yourselves and honoring the communities that you're coming from. Um, it's been really beautiful, um, and really powerful and I, yeah, I, I can't, uh, I can't wait to see what other projects come about in the next little bit, um, and how each of your practices will grow and who else will get to witness it with you. Speaker 3 00:46:45 Thank you so much for having us. I think this is such a lovely space and I'm so happy I had like the opportunity to have this conversation. I learned, I felt, man, I've seen it, but I felt the emotions <laugh> and um, I really just learned lot, a lot more about our diasporic situation as it comes outta Ottawa, but also each one of you. So Speaker 2 00:47:05 Thank you. Thank you so much for hosting this space. Um, in closing, I wanna stay that my Asbury blanket had, um, the polo bear on it for some reason. <laugh> to this day, I don't know why, like a polar bear would sense an African household, but this is what I had <laugh>. Oh, Speaker 3 00:47:26 I love the award name. Speaker 2 00:47:29 Why put a polar? Isn't that a polar bear? For sure. Where's the bit for sure? Because the blanket itself was black and the bear was white. <laugh>. Like what are the, can you say recipes to draw? Are there polar bears in Berlin, Brazil, you never know. May they might have seen one. I mean, climate change's wild, but I don't think we're out that pumpkin. Well it is a perfect note to end on. I love it. <laugh>, here's to all the ugly blankets. We here <laugh> mine. Whispery. I love it. I miss every day that. Thank you. Speaker 5 00:48:04 Thanks for joining us for another episode. Don't forget to subscribe. Leave us a rating and a review. It helps us get that much more of a platform Speaker 6 00:48:16 To be continued troubling. The Archive is hosted and produced by Anna Hawk. Speaker 4 00:48:21 Technical Speaker 6 00:48:22 Support for the show comes through from Spin's Sun. A major thanks goes to Hunter Deusche for their wonderful work in creating the local for the series. The Intro and Outdoor Commission works by artist Chris Bukowski. The show would not be possible without the support of Q Ag and the Canna Council for the Arts Digital Now Grant.

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