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Leila Sujir

This work uses storytelling, humour, magic and history to sweep away the misconceptions that haunt the lives of its characters. Jeanne, an archivist, researches the racist policies of the time of Mackenzie King, stretching back to the beginning of the 20th century and uncovers the secrets of her family history as well as Canadian history. Her daughter, Usha, an airline crew scheduler, and Devika, a night cleaner, slowly overcome their suspicions of each other and share their secret stories. Usha tells of the devastating family history which leads her to see repeatedly a memory of her mother in a pool of blood. Devika tells of the subtle devastation of her homeland through development policies, which have led her to emigrate. The storyteller, also a cleaner, but of airplane exteriors, intervenes when necessary to tell the story, which becomes a fable for our time.

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Leila Sujir is an artist and a professor at Concordia University in the Intermedia Cyberarts (IMCA) program of the Studio Arts Department with a background in visual and media arts production and theory. In 2005 through 2006, she was a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the University of Calgary, a one year research position as an artist in the Interactions Lab in the Department of Computer Science. "My Two Grandmothers RMX," an interactive video installation working with a tabletop interface, is a project which culminated from the year at the Interactions Lab and as a co-production in the Banff New Media Institute. Sujir's video art works, both sculptural pieces as well as works which can be shown on a screen or a television, interlace archival elements into the time and space of video, working with various poetic and narrative strategies, providing the viewer with a reconsideration of the official histories and stories which shape our lives. A solo exhibition which has toured Canada, "Luminous Stories," initiated by the Art Gallery of Peterborough, covers the last ten years of her video production. Her video works have been shown in group shows at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate Gallery in Liverpool, U.K. as well as galleries and festivals all over the world. "New Republics," a group exhibition out of the U.K. toured Canada and Australia 1999-2000. Her video works are in a number of collections, including the National Gallery of Canada which own four of her works, starting with productions from the mid-eighties through to the present. Sujir's video work has also been shown on educational television in Canada. Her previous project, "For Jackson, A Time Capsule," (2003) supported by five Canadian broadcasters as well as the National Film Board, came out of an earlier installation, a working process which allows art projects to take shape and develop as they move through various media.

Further Information

TOUSLEY, Nancy, “Dream of the Nights Cleaners” [Rev.] Canadian Art, vol. 12 no 3, Fall 1995, p. 111.*

*Digitally reprinted with permission from Canadian Art



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