Chain Reaction 2020–2021

Chain Reaction Series

Robert Langen Art Gallery’s exhibition programs are valued and well-respected educational resources for Laurier students, faculty and public at large. Chain Reaction represents a new online series of collaborations between the gallery and faculty members to integrate a contemporary arts component into areas of course study.

The objective of this experiential learning opportunity is to provide a shared environment where academic and artistic perspectives can come together to foster an exchange of ideas, ignite creative thinking and explore critical debate. Students are invited by the Art Gallery Curator to create a response to a selected work of art that relates to the concepts or issues discussed in their assigned course. The response can be in the form of video essay, creative literary piece, drawing, painting, photograph, spoken word, etc. — the course professor will determine or approve the student’s selected approach.

Cartographer's mistake: hockey fields and marigold maps

Sarindar Dhaliwal mixed media works

In 2012 RLAG presented this exhibition which took viewers on a journey through Dhaliwal’s personal history of movement from her birthplace in India, to Britain and then finally to Canada. This circuit retraced many times serves as a conceptual framework to construct a particular cartography of 20th century diaspora and the colonial legacy that shaped it. “My work has always been connected to the autobiographical underpinnings of my life; reshaping the bits of one’s history that have been fragmented and displaced across continents, cultures and homes,” said Dhaliwal.

Included in the exhibition was the Dhaliwal’s first video project entitled olive, almond & mustard (2010). The video speaks to the parental desire and insistence to continue cultural rituals while assimilating into life in Britain during 1950–1960’s. The artist reflects on her grooming experience with her mother washing her hair in warmed homemade yoghurt and then rubbing olive oil (sometimes almond or mustard oil) into her hair and then braiding and putting ribbons in it. A common act in the country of her birth (India) but was at odds with Dhaliwal’s desire to assimilate into the culture of my adopted homeland. This endearing motherly act is alternatively seen as alienating experience to the daughter and exacerbates the political and journalistic diatribes against immigrants in England at that time.

Sarindar Dhaliwal is a Toronto-based artist, exhibiting nationally and internationally. Born in the Punjab raised in London, England and has lived in Canada since 1968. Dhaliwal received her BFA with a concentration in sculpture at University College Falmouth, UK, and her MFA from York University. She graduated with a doctorate from the Cultural Studies Program at Queens University in 2019.

The Robert Langen Art Gallery acknowledges the generosity of Sarindar Dhaliwal for granting copyright permission to incorporate screen captures, footage, and short audio clips from olive, almond & mustard (2010) into the video essays of Laurier's FS238: Bollywood Film course student projects.

olive, almond & mustard (2010)

In the 2020 Fall term, students in FS238 Bollywood Film course under the guidance of Dr. Jing Jing Chang created video essays that provided their own commentaries on the film olive, almond & mustard (2010) by Canadian multimedia artist Sarindar Dhaliwal. The following videos cover a wide range of topics, from overcoming loneliness during the current pandemic, to spending quality time with family over home-cooked meals, to experiences of homesickness living in the diaspora, to poetic and personal reflections on gender and the rural-urban divides. While some videos are quiet renditions of their views toward themes of diaspora and identity politics, some videos are accompanied by creative poems written by the students themselves.

FS238 Bollywood Film Creative Course Assignment

Based on the video and materials addressed in class, students will work either independently or in groups to create video essays that provide their commentaries on the video titled olive, almond & mustard (2010) by Canadian multimedia artist Sarindar Dhaliwal. Through their video essays, students will activate an ongoing dialogue with Dhaliwal’s video, as well as engage with themes such as masculinity, sexuality, and family within the fluid contexts of the nation and diaspora often found in Bollywood films.

On behalf of the Robert Langen Art Gallery, I would like to thank our participating students for their creativity, and willingness to share their projects for our Laurier community.

Suzanne Luke, Curator
Robert Langen Art Gallery

A Chaotic Balance by Jocelyn Khosla and Aria Noori

A Farm Mom in a City by Nolan O’Kane

All Of This Catch Up by Simmone Huras

Alone by Jared Wallis

Beans and Toast by Alexander Boudreau

Coconut Curry Chicken by Jacob Raubvogel

Leave The Light On by Ying Ying Pan

Seasons by Ali Fazal

Two Cups of Tea by Mansi Jaswal and Zoha Haider

World Citizen by Camila Cote Zapata