My mother tongue is burdened by the accent of exile

My mother tongue is burdened by the accent of exile is a sound, video and interactive work highlighting the loss and longing for ancestral cultural literacy, created by Golboo Amani in collaboration with Maryam Hafizirad and Mohammad Rezaei. Through personal interviews and poetic recitations this digital exhibition unpacks the fear of cultural erasure and the longing for ancestral kinship experienced by immigrants and diaspora.

As young children, Golboo Amani’s parents assigned her and her older sister poems to memorize and recite. These poems, which took the form of fairy tales, were about dark times and hopeful futures. They were given as gifts, and tied them to their ancestors and a motherland they have yet to experience. These were the offerings of immigrant parents who feared the impending loss of their mother tongue and with it their cultural heritage.

My mother tongue is burdened by the accent of exile is a visual and auditory recitation of “Pariya" by Ahmad Shamlu, the poem Amani was assigned to learn as a child. In collaboration with artist Maryam Hafizirad, the work responds to the Iranian tradition of poetry as a teaching tool for cultivating cultural literacy and language skills. The work addresses the linguistic mechanisms of inclusion and otherness, while also unpacking the poem’s meaning through various forms of translation and interpretation.

While popularized by iconic poets like Hafez and Rumi, poetry and oral compositions have long been the fabric of Persian culture. The tradition spans several millennia, and has been used to expound on philosophy, science and virtually every other field of scholarship. A conventional Iranian education included the memorization of poems and verses as part of standard education. Elders, including Amani’s parents, still recite the poems and proverbs of their childhood. In modern times, however, political turmoil produced poems that eluded the triggers of censorship through metaphor and fantasy. Ahmad Shamlu and his fairy tale poem “Pariya” is one such example.

This multimedia recitation of “Pariya” centres divergent articulations, marking them as the conditions of diaspora, and acknowledging the shifts in cultural literacy between a generation of expats and their displaced kin.


November 2020
Koffler.Digital
Artist: Golboo Amani

Collaborators: Maryam Hafizirad and Mohammad Rezaei

Production: Ahmad Amani, Mahshid Amani, Tala Jalili, Danielle Leddy, David Blackmore

Curator: Letticia Cosbert Miller

Design: Natasha Whyte-Gray


This exhibition was made possible through the generous support of EQ Bank.
My mother tongue is burdened by the accent of exile is a sound and video work highlighting the loss and longing for ancestral cultural literacy. Through personal interviews and poetic recitations this work unpacks the fear of cultural erasure and the longing for ancestral kinship experienced by immigrants and diaspora.

As young children, Golboo Amani’s parents assigned her and her older sister poems to memorize and recite. These poems, which took the form of fairy tales, were about dark times and hopeful futures. They were given as gifts, and tied them to their ancestors and a motherland they have yet to experience. These were the offerings of immigrant parents who feared the impending loss of their mother tongue and with it their cultural heritage.

My mother tongue is burdened by the accent of exile is a visual and auditory recitation of “Pariya" by Ahmad Shamlu, the poem Amani was assigned to learn as a child. In collaboration with artist Maryam Hafizirad, the work responds to the Iranian tradition of poetry as a teaching tool for cultivating cultural literacy and language skills. The work addresses the linguistic mechanisms of inclusion and otherness, while also unpacking the poem’s meaning through various forms of translation and interpretation.

While popularized by iconic poets like Hafez and Rumi, poetry and oral compositions have long been the fabric of Persian culture. The tradition spans several millennia, and has been used to expound on philosophy, science and virtually every other field of scholarship. A conventional Iranian education included the memorization of poems and verses as part of standard education. Elders, including Amani’s parents, still recite the poems and proverbs of their childhood. In modern times, however, political turmoil produced poems that eluded the triggers of censorship through metaphor and fantasy. Ahmad Shamlu and his fairy tale poem “Pariya” is one such example.

This multimedia recitation of “Pariya” centres divergent articulations, marking them as the conditions of diaspora, and acknowledging the shifts in cultural literacy between a generation of expats and their displaced kin.


November 2020
Koffler.Digital
Artist: Golboo Amani

Collaborators: Maryam Hafizirad and Mohammad Rezaei

Production: Ahmad Amani, Mahshid Amani, Tala Jalili, Danielle Leddy, David Blackmore

Curator: Letticia Cosbert Miller

Design: Natasha Whyte-Gray


This exhibition was made possible through the generous support of EQ Bank.

Studio Visit

Golboo Amani and her collaborators Mohammad Rezaei and Maryam Hafizirad pose interview questions to each other about the making of My mother tongue is burdened by the accent of exile. Episodes 1 and 2 with Mohammad Rezaei and Golboo Amani, respectively, are available to watch below and on our Instagram page, @koffler.digital.

Golboo Amani

Multi-disciplinary artist Golboo Amani is best known for her performance and social practice works. Amani often relies on familiar social engagements as a point of entry into her practice. Critical of systemic social patterns, the artist views social situations as ready-made sites for aesthetic intervention.

Acknowledging that many of us are marked by long, personal histories and prescribed relationships with pedagogy, Amani’s work often addresses the conditions of knowledge production that render epistemic violence as invisible, insignificant and benign. Much of her work focuses on interventions or alternatives to formal sites of pedagogy to include forms, contexts and content normally excluded from institutionalized knowledge production. By expanding sites of pedagogy to include the streets, backyards, homes, public transit, Amani intends to produce non-hierarchical pedagogical experiences that speak to collective agency and egalitarian epistemology.

Amani’s work has been shown nationally and internationally in venues including the Creative Time Summit, Art Gallery of Ontario, Articule, XPACE Artist-Run Centre, Encuentro: Hemispheric Institute, Union Gallery, Blackwood Gallery, Rats9 Gallery, Rhubarb Festival, FADO Emerging Artist Series, TRANSMUTED International Festival of Performance Art (Mexico City), 221A Artist-Run Centre, and the LIVE Biennial of Performance Art.


Mohammad Rezaei

Mohammad Rezaei is an interdisciplinary artist, activist, curator, designer, web developer, community organizer and arts administrator currently residing in Toronto, Canada. Born in Iran, Rezaei immigrated to suburban streets of Calgary, Canada in his early teens. His experiences as a person with a middle eastern descent living on colonized land has deeply influenced his creative practice. His artistic practice is informed by his experiences coordinating and collaborating to make exhibitions happen. Rezaei revels in experimental approaches to making digital and IRL display strategies brought together with intentions of community building. Rezaei’s interests have led him to contribute to the establishment of exhibition spaces and art festivals, extensive involvement with artist-run centers and galleries across Canada while maintaining an independent arts and curatorial practice.

Rezaei’s projects have been funded through successful grants from Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council. From 2013-2016, he was the Director of Programming at Whippersnapper Gallery in Toronto. Since 2012 Rezaei has curated and exhibited works at Truck Contemporary Art in Calgary, Contemporary Calgary, Toronto’s Nuit Blanche, 7a*11d Performance Art Festival, Xpace Cultural Centre and The New Gallery. He has published art criticism for the Canvas Magazine, Calgary Biannual, Emmedia Production House and Gallery, and Fuse Magazine.


Maryam Hafizirad

Maryam Hafizirad is an Iranian painter, from Isfahan, Iran who is Deaf. A permanent resident of Canada, Maryam graduated from Isfahan University of Fine Arts in 2002. Maryam’s first exhibition was in Iran at the age of 18. Since then her award winning works have been shown individually and as part of the artistic group “Farda”, meaning “Tomorrow”, in major cities of Iran, China, Germany, Malaysia and India.

Golboo Amani

Multi-disciplinary artist Golboo Amani is best known for her performance and social practice works. Amani often relies on familiar social engagements as a point of entry into her practice. Critical of systemic social patterns, the artist views social situations as ready-made sites for aesthetic intervention.

Acknowledging that many of us are marked by long, personal histories and prescribed relationships with pedagogy, Amani’s work often addresses the conditions of knowledge production that render epistemic violence as invisible, insignificant and benign. Much of her work focuses on interventions or alternatives to formal sites of pedagogy to include forms, contexts and content normally excluded from institutionalized knowledge production. By expanding sites of pedagogy to include the streets, backyards, homes, public transit, Amani intends to produce non-hierarchical pedagogical experiences that speak to collective agency and egalitarian epistemology.

Amani’s work has been shown nationally and internationally in venues including the Creative Time Summit, Art Gallery of Ontario, Articule, XPACE Artist-Run Centre, Encuentro: Hemispheric Institute, Union Gallery, Blackwood Gallery, Rats9 Gallery, Rhubarb Festival, FADO Emerging Artist Series, TRANSMUTED International Festival of Performance Art (Mexico City), 221A Artist-Run Centre, and the LIVE Biennial of Performance Art.


Mohammad Rezaei

Mohammad Rezaei is an interdisciplinary artist, activist, curator, designer, web developer, community organizer and arts administrator currently residing in Toronto, Canada. Born in Iran, Rezaei immigrated to suburban streets of Calgary, Canada in his early teens. His experiences as a person with a middle eastern descent living on colonized land has deeply influenced his creative practice. His artistic practice is informed by his experiences coordinating and collaborating to make exhibitions happen. Rezaei revels in experimental approaches to making digital and IRL display strategies brought together with intentions of community building. Rezaei’s interests have led him to contribute to the establishment of exhibition spaces and art festivals, extensive involvement with artist-run centers and galleries across Canada while maintaining an independent arts and curatorial practice.

Rezaei’s projects have been funded through successful grants from Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council. From 2013-2016, he was the Director of Programming at Whippersnapper Gallery in Toronto. Since 2012 Rezaei has curated and exhibited works at Truck Contemporary Art in Calgary, Contemporary Calgary, Toronto’s Nuit Blanche, 7a*11d Performance Art Festival, Xpace Cultural Centre and The New Gallery. He has published art criticism for the Canvas Magazine, Calgary Biannual, Emmedia Production House and Gallery, and Fuse Magazine.


Maryam Hafizirad

Maryam Hafizirad is an Iranian painter, from Isfahan, Iran who is Deaf. A permanent resident of Canada, Maryam graduated from Isfahan University of Fine Arts in 2002. Maryam’s first exhibition was in Iran at the age of 18. Since then her award winning works have been shown individually and as part of the artistic group “Farda”, meaning “Tomorrow”, in major cities of Iran, China, Germany, Malaysia and India.