Passages Trilogy draws from travel writing by travelers from the East to the West during the 18th and 19th centuries. Developed through extensive research, the project consists of Wonders of the Sea (based on travelogue by Mirza I'tessam al-Din Tajpouri), Inhabiting the North (based on memoirs of Sayyada Salma bint Said, aka Emily Ruete), and Like Flesh and Blood (based on memoirs of Joseph Emin)
Inhabiting the North is a dinner gathering, interactive performance and conversation. It was first staged in 2015 with guest readers Sarah Abu-Sharar and Zainab Amadahy, and food artists Salma Al-Atassi, Claude Awad, Azar Masoumi, women of Regent Park Catering Collective, Johl Ringuette (Nishdish), and Nicole Tanguay.
Held at Beit Zatoun, the 2015 performance brought collaborators from treaty and indigenous communities together with an audience of women and trans women invited through community networking. The performance includes a reading of Sayyida Salme bint Said’s memoirs against the backdrop of a video projection journaling travels through a winter landscape on Turtle Island. Published in German in 1886, Sayyida Salma’s memoirs are the earliest written and published in the “West” by a woman from the “East.” The reading was punctuated with critical questions that prompted cross-generational and cross-cultural conversations among the participants about critical issues in Indigeneity, migration, settlement, education, culture and gender in Canada.
The performance was broadcast live on the internet and recorded. Also projected were videos of the food artists as they worked and talked about the cultural significance of the dishes they brought to the feast, and the role of food in social relations and communal welfare. The evening ended with a short video of the 2015 Toronto Strawberry Ceremony for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls as the event raised funds for It Starts with Us project. Included in VOZ-À-VOZ / VOICE-À-VOICE exhibition at YYZ in Fall 2015, Inhabiting the North video combines the different elements of the live event into a stand-alone narrative.
This work can be re-staged as a live, site-responsive performance. A full video of the 2015 performance is available for single- or multi-channel exhibition or for screening.