Still from video Performing community garden

Screening and artist talk with Khadija Baker

Performing Community Garden

Performing community garden is a participatory performance, and subsequent video work, where Baker employs story-telling and memories in a reciprocal relationship with community members. Wearing a hand-woven dress designed to hold a number of plants, Baker will share a plant with a name attached to it, with participants to take home with them. The names of the plants belong to primarily civilians who have been lost or displaced through violent situations as well as the names of survivors who have recently arrived in Canada. As the performance progresses, Baker shares memories and stories of the person the plant is named after with participants, and ask that they too, share the story of a loved one with her. Live performances in Kitchener (June 19 )and Montreal will document these intimate encounters resulting in a video work to be screened as part of CAFKA.21. Baker’s aim with the performance is to foster healthier relations with displaced people from the Middle East and encourage greater acceptance of different cultural values as a way to circumvent social separation and conflict. The work suggests we not forget, but be present, and reflect on the fact that even though the plant carries a stranger’s name, the life the plant carries will be nourished with the care and love of its recipients as it grows.

Image courtesy the artist.


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.