AISLE 4 | In Residence
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In Residence / 2019

Sameer Farooq
Serena Lee
Petrina Ng
Annie Wong

July-November 2019 at the Scarborough Museum
In Residence is an artist-in-residence series at the Scarborough Museum that challenges the role of a colonial house museum in present-day Scarborough. Participating artists are invited to interrogate dominant narratives, expand upon historic timelines, and transform the meaning of physical objects and spaces through intimate conversations, community collaborations, and public programs or presentations. Experimental in nature and rooted in social practice, the residency program seeks to draw meaningful connections between the museum and its surrounding neighbourhood, sparking the beginning of longer-term engagements.

Sameer Farooq

During his residency, Farooq constructed a tandoor (clay oven) as a semi-permanent fixture at the Museum. The idea first came to him during a recent trip to Pakistan with his father, where they visited relatives in several different neighbourhoods, each with their own community tandoor. While the artist admired the ovens for their unique details, he was especially taken with their function as a gathering place for local residents. This inspired him to build something similar at the Scarborough Museum in Thomson Memorial Park, which bustles with families from the surrounding Bendale neighbourhood during the warmer months of the year. The oven will remain at the site well after Farooq’s residency comes to an end, which the Museum will use to host a variety of public programs in collaboration with community members. The first public firing (date tbc) will be a “BYOD” or “bring-your-own-dough” event, and attendees are encouraged to bring their own personal touches, both with ingredients for the dough and technique with which they cook the food in the oven.

Serena Lee

Lee is engaging Museum staff, volunteers, and visitors in intimate conversations around the question “What do you do?” – intended to ultimately conjure perspectives about spaces, things, sounds, and activities, and how they connect to work and play. The artist then takes 3-D scans objects of significance to create an augmented reality (as well as ‘irl’) scavenger hunt that imbues speculative narratives taken from these conversations onto physical elements within the museum’s spaces. The mobile app scavenger hunt will be launched at the Museum in Spring 2020.

Petrina Ng

Neither fortunes nor flowers last forever
Neither fortunes nor flowers last forever is a series of workshops led by local florists that will look at non-western approaches to flower arranging and illuminate diverse cultural histories of plants and flowers. Each workshop involves a critical discussion that asks questions about colonial histories, cultural appropriation, and our current climate crisis.
All workshops are free of charge and will take place at the Scarborough Museum. Limited number of hands-on spots available. RSVP to Please note, the Scarborough Museum is a partially-accessible site. Scroll below for full details about each workshop:
Workshop 3: A Guide to South Asian Flower Garlands
November 13, 2019 | 6­–8pm
Led by Ramsankar and Anita Singh of Om Deepam Puja Centre, with conversation led by environmental activist and artist Amrita Singh
Over 25 years ago, Ramsankar and Anita Singh opened one of Scarborough’s first Indo-Guyanese shops. They will speak about how their business supports Scarborough’s vibrant South Asian immigrant community. In conversation with their daughter, Amrita, the family will also trace their journey from India to Guyana and finally to Toronto, Canada. Participants will learn how generations of the Indian diaspora are connected through jasmine, tulsi, lime, and rose water; and take part in the sacred practice of Hindu garland making.
Amrita Singh is a multi-disciplinary artist currently completing a Masters degree in Environmental Studies at York University. Based in Scarborough, her work explores environmental inequality, with a focus on race, gender, income, and orientation. She received her BA from York University (2016) in Drama Studies and draws from her experiences on stage to create works which theatrically illustrate environmental and social justice issues.
Workshop 1: Flower Arranging with Inspiration from Chinese Brush Paintings
October 19, 2019 | 1–3pm
Led by Allison Chow of Posy Gang, with conversation led by artist Shellie Zhang
Allison Chow of Posy Gang will speak about her journey to flower growing and floral design, beginning with her lessons in Chinese brush-painting as a young girl, and the ways in which they inform her current design aesthetic. Participants can expect to create their own small brush-painting-inspired floral arrangement using a flower/pin frog and – with the cooperation of the weather – flowers harvested fresh from the Posy Gang cutting garden.

Posy Gang is a floral design studio and cutting garden based in Whitby, Ontario. Established in 2016, Posy Gang is owned and operated by Allison Chow, who is passionate about growing flowers sustainably and sharing their beauty. She specializes in creating seasonal, garden-inspired floral arrangements for both special events and everyday occasions.
Shellie Zhang is a multidisciplinary artist based in Tkaronto/Toronto, Canada. By uniting both past and present iconography with the techniques of mass communication, language and sign, Zhang’s work deconstructs notions of tradition, gender, identity, the diaspora, and popular culture while calling attention to these subjects in the context and construction of a multicultural society. She is interested in exploring how integration, diversity and assimilation is implemented and negotiated, how this relates to lived experiences, and how culture is learned, relearned and sustained.
Workshop 2: Spotlight on Jasmine, from Syria to the Philippines
October 26, 2019 | 1­–3pm
Led by Syrian florist Abd Al-Mounim and Hanan Nanaa, with conversation led by horticulturalist Christine Balmes
Abd Al-Mounim will speak about his experience as a florist in the Middle East, the Syrian cultural history of jasmine, and why Damascus, the oldest city in the world, is called the “City of Jasmine.” Participants will learn about flowers and our connection to the land according to Middle Eastern culture, and will design a small bouquet while discussing the differences between Western and Middle Eastern ways of arranging flowers. Christine Balmes will share why jasmine is the national flowers of the Philippines.
While most of this workshop will be led in English, Abd’s instruction will be in Arabic, translated to English by Hanan Nanaa.
Abd Al-Mounim is a Syrian florist from Aleppo. He has worked in the flower arranging industry for more than 15 years, designing small and large arrangements for concerts, weddings, and special events. Abd emigrated to Canada in 2016 and is keen to share his passion for flower arranging with people from diverse backgrounds.
Hanan Nanaa is a student at Ryerson University, majoring in Politics and Governance. She is also a dedicated community activator. Recently she founded BAM-Books, Art, Music Collective, an initiative that empowers young people to get involved in civics through art.
Christine Balmes is a Filipinx landworker and horticulture apprentice based in Toronto. Her interest is in learning and doing more to make landworking more aligned with Indigenous knowledges, systems, and practices. She is a member of Kapwa Collective.

Annie Wong

McCowan Spirit Walk
The McCowan Spirit Walk is a guided tour is based on the imagined, solitary life of pioneer William McCowan, whose 1830 log cabin is located at the Museum. The walk maps a mystical pilgrimage-like ritual that reflects on the various spirits, energies, and stories of the surrounding site, as well as the cabin where McCowan lived alone for 54 years. Throughout the tour, participants will engage in vocal and breathing exercises to urge spiritual connectivity while wandering through the Scarborough parklands at nightfall. In this process-based performance, Wong evokes the psychogeography of walking rituals, using embodied knowledge and soundwork to consider the entanglements between the profane and sacred in everyday life.
Read Fan Wu’s reflections on the McCowan Spirit Walk here.

Artist Biographies

Sameer Farooq is a Canadian artist of Pakistani and Ugandan Indian descent. His interdisciplinary practice investigates tactics of representation and enlists the tools of sculpture, installation, photography, documentary filmmaking, writing and the methods of anthropology to explore various forms of collecting, interpreting, and display. The result is often a collaborative work which counterbalances how dominant institutions speak about our lives: a counter-archive, new additions to a museum collection, or a buried history made visible. With exhibitions at institutions around the world including the Aga Khan Museum (Toronto), the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), The British Library (London), the Institute of Islamic Culture (Paris), the Lilley Museum (Reno), Vicki Myhren Gallery (Denver), the Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver), Maquis Projects, (Izmir), Trankat (Tétouan, Morocco), Sol Koffler Gallery (Providence), Artellewa (Cairo), and Sanat Limani (Istanbul), Farooq received several awards from The Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, and the Europe Media Fund, as well the President’s Scholarship at the Rhode Island School of Design. Reviews and essays dedicated to his work have been included in Canadian Art, The Washington Post, BBC Culture, Hyperallergic, Artnet, The Huffington Post, C Magazine, and others. He was longlisted for the Sobey Art Award in 2018.

Serena Lee’s practice stems from a fascination with polyphony and its radical potential. She layers time-based media and works collaboratively and discursively. Recent projects have been presented at Cubitt (London) and Transmediale (Berlin), as part of feminist reading collective Read-in, and with Christina Battle as SHATTERED MOON ALLIANCE. Serena is a researcher in the PhD-in-Practice Programme at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.

Petrina Ng is a visual artist and cultural worker based in Toronto. Her multi-form practice looks at diasporic loss and legacy through a lens of decolonization. Recent exhibition sites include Humber Galleries (Toronto), FOFA Gallery (Montréal), Blackwood Gallery (Mississauga), and Zalucky Contemporary (Toronto). Petrina also publishes books about art in collaboration with designer Rachel Wallace as the imprint, Durable Good. She holds an MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art.

Artist Biographies

Annie Wong is a writer and multidisciplinary artist working in performance and installation. Conceptually diverse, her practice explores the intersections between the politic and poetic in everyday life. Her current research focuses on the ways in which affective knowledge, particularly intergenerational feminist anger, the melancholy of ancestral amnesia, and hauntologies of diasporic displacement, are embodied in these muddied intersections. Wong’s practice is heavily collaborative and often engages diasporic communities to produce a collective form of carework as the basis for artistic production, allyship building, and spiritualism. Wong has presented in solo and group exhibitions extensively across North America and has been awarded residencies with the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Power Plant (Toronto, ON), and Khyber Centre for the Arts (Halifax, NS). Her literary practice in poetry, art writing, and non-fiction can be found in The Shanghai Literary Review, C Magazine, Canadian Art, and MICE Magazine.


Photography: Kat Rizza (2019)

This project is produced with the support of the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council.


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