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Women´s Art Festival:

Immigrant, Refugee, and 


Friday, August 2nd to Sunday, August 4th, 2019

Saw Gallery (Arts Court)​

67 Nicholas St, Ottawa, ON K1N 7B9

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Come wash with us: Seeking home in story is a collaborative research-creation piece by a collective of four women. The members of our collective originally come from the Middle/Near East. Having lived in a volatile region before calling Canada home, all four of us have inherited memories of atrocities from our families, just as we have lived ourselves through civil wars, military coups, bloody revolutions and political repressions. It is these inherited and lived difficult memories that also have become the fabric of both our individual work in our respective disciplines and the broader canvas of our projected collective work.

Tasht Collective

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Our starting point is our personal stories and family memories of doing laundry, which woven together with shared history from our originary communities become the springboard for creating our own community sitting around a circle of washtubs to explore our collective stories of loss, dispossession, war, genocide, and exile. The performance (approximately one hour in length), features an open dialogue amongst ourselves and with viewers who would like to join our process of washing. By carrying the conversations into the space of “doing laundry” communally we hope to break down barriers between “audience” and “artist,” and create an alternative methodological language in which the process becomes the performance.

Hourig Attarian has obtained her PhD from the Faculty of Education, McGill University. She is Assistant Professor in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at the American University of Armenia and a core member of the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling (COHDS) at Concordia University, Canada. Visual arts-based methodologies are a core facet of her research endeavours. Anchored in the blurred genre of life history and autobiographical inquiry, her work focuses on storying memory and identity through visual and narrative explorations. Her research-creation projects draw together difficult memories and marginalized histories of violence within a framework of public pedagogy.


Shahrzad Arshadi, a Montreal­based multidisciplinary artist and human rights activist, came to Canada as a political refugee on December 24, 1983. In her artistic career Shahrzad has ventured into different fields of photography, documentary film, sound creation and performance, enabling her to focus on issues of memory, culture and human rights. She is the winner of the 19th International Galawej Cultural Festival 2015 in Iraqi Kurdistan for her documentary film “Dancing For Change.” She has also received “Women of Distinction 2017, the Inspiration Award” from the Women’s Y Foundation, in Montreal, Canada. Shahrzad is a core member of the Centre for Oral History & Digital Storytelling (COHDS) at Concordia University.


Khadija Baker is a Montreal-based, multidisciplinary artist of Kurdish-Syrian descent. She is also a core member of the Centre for Oral History & Digital Storytelling (COHDS) at Concordia University. Her installations investigate social and political themes centered on the uncertainty of home as it relates to persecution, identity, displacement, and memory. As a witness to traumatic events, unsettled feelings of home are a part of her experience. Her multi-disciplinary installations (textile, sculpture, audio/video) involve participative storytelling and performance to create active spaces of empathy and greater understanding.


Kumru Bilici is a Ottawa-based Canadian/Turkish freelance journalist and photographer. She has obtained her M.A. in Film Studies from Carleton University in Ottawa. Her research focuses on post-exilic Armenian “homecoming” documentary films as they work through the traumatic post-memory of the 1915 genocide. She works for Agos in Istanbul, a weekly newspaper that is published bilingually in Armenian and Turkish. She is also co-founder and active member of an Ottawa and Montreal based dialogue group Voices in Dialogue, a non-profit and non-partisan organization which promotes open and peaceful dialogue among different peoples whose roots are found in Anatolia, notably those with Turkish, Armenian, and Kurdish backgrounds.

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