Being Home

Being Home explores the psychic, spiritual and emotional territories within domestic spaces.   Drawing on a history of feminist art practice that claims and makes space, Farheen records herself in relation to the kitchen table and domestic objects, to create a vocabulary of gestures with which to negotiate the overlapping identities of motherhood, feminism, gender and ethnicity. She renders visible the interior and subconscious world she occupies in her home.

Farheen’s practice is one of retrieval and remembrance. Artmaking provides opportunities to mine body memories that she then reenacts in the context of her unfolding life. She is interested in how culture and memory live in our bodies and re-enacts gestures in order to reconsider them.  In making this work, her interactions with her kitchen table took her back to her own childhood while investigating her current experience of motherhood. Her gestures at the table emerge from her subconscious and tap into a lineage of women who have come before her: those who washed by hand, made rotis, ground up spices, swaddled, wrapped and comforted. In wrapping herself in the long table cloth, she is the baby, the young child and also the grandmother wrapped in a white sari.

Positing the dinner table, the laundry and the kitchen sink as significant sites where the diversity of daily life intersect, the artist investigates the processes, dynamics, tensions and elevation that occur through assertion, take over and embodied occupation of home spaces. Farheen asks: “What is my body’s relationship to this site? “How does home live in my body?” “How am I present in my home?” “How am I home?”


Farheen was born and raised in the Niagara Region of Southern Ontario. She now makes her home in Victoria BC where she has lived and worked for the past 17 years. Farheen’s media based works explore cultural inscriptions of the body, ritual and gesture. She received her BA in International Development (1998) from the University of Toronto, her BEd (2000) from the University of Ottawa and her MFA in Visual Arts (2005) from York University. Farheen has exhibited her work in galleries and festivals throughout Canada and internationally including New York, Paris, Buenos Aires, Lahore, Hungary, and Romania. Recent exhibitions include Fashionality at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in 2012, Collected Resonance at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria in 2011, Pulse Interval at Open Space (Victoria, BC) in 2010, The Emperor’s New Clothes at the Talwar Gallery (New York City) in June 2009, andPulse Contemporary Art Fair (Miami, FL) in December 2008. In 2014 HaQ was nominated for the Sobey Art Award.

Farheen is actively involved in her community serving as a programming committee member for Open Space artist run centre, and having served previously as a board member. In 2014 she was Artist in Residence at Artemis Place Secondary, an alternative school for girls. HaQ taught at the Vancouver Island School of Art (2005 to 2006). She also works as an art educator delivering professional development workshops for adults and educators.

Being Home is part of CVAG’s exhibition series In this body: journeys in places of meeting, residing at the intersection of art and the everyday. The participating artists share affinities for creating and activating occurrences of being in this body, as they confront and negotiate the complex experiential terrain of family life, making space for death, and interspecies collaborations.

In this body invites conversation about the myriad ways in which the artists encounter and deal with interpersonal dynamics, history, culture, behaviours, architecture, landscape and politics, and how these influences inform our changing sense of self.

The performative characteristics of each of these new works connect the artists’ vision directly with the real and present body and this informs their research, presentation and interactions with participants/audience. CVAG values the opportunity to support new site-responsive, collaborative and interactive projects by established contemporary artists engaged in taking risks and extending their practice into new territory.


Documentation courtesy of Alun Macanulty, Sarah Bergeron + Farheen HaQ
Without the help of the following people and organizations, this exhibition would not have been possible. My deep gratitude to all listed below.

For their assistance in the production of this work:
Kirk Schwartz: camera work, lighting design
Mary Lloyd: production assistant, movement coach
Darren Bertuccio:  furniture modification
Gail Boulger: linen supply, tablet & painting

To the following organizations for their financial and creative support:
British Columbia Arts Council
Canada Council for the Arts
MediaNet: camera & lighting equipment
South Asian Women’s Creative Collective: thanks to Shelly Bahl for hosting
my NY residency and for feedback on early stages of this work

Many thanks to the Comox Valley Art Gallery for exhibiting this work, and in specific to Angela Somerset for the invitation and for her expansive, generous way of working. Thank you to all staff and volunteers who helped with installation and many details, especially: Sarah, Lukas, Scott, Kevin, Tom & Iris. Thank you to Alun Macanulty for his documentation of this work.

To my village of friends & family who have supported me throughout my creative process. Especially Gillian Booth, Stephanie Gabel and Rachel Maclaren for their listening ears and insightful questions.

Finally to my partner Chris for being there for every part of this project and our children Aisha and Cairo who are the wellspring for this work.

      – Farheen HaQ