MoMA collects numerous drawings by Hajra Waheed


Pieces from rising artist Hajra Waheed’s “Antranik Anouchian Passport Portrait Drawing series” were recently acquired by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. In the series, the artist reflects on experiences had while growing up on a Saudi Arabian oil compound.

Hajra Waheed, 'Antranik Anouchian Passport Portrait Drawing series (Women with Headscarves)', 2010, pencil drawing on paper. Image courtesy Green Cardamom.

Waheed was inspired by passport photos taken by Armenian photographer Antranik Anouchian between 1935 to 1970. As she explains in an artist statement,

As a result of living in Saudi Arabia, a country that forbid any use of public photographic/video documentation, the only images permissible were that of the passport photo. As a woman, I was only able to leave the city and travel within the country with written permission from my father and the accompaniment of an Iqama or in-country passport. Consequently, the passport photo not only identified me but came to represent the opportunity to exist as a somewhat free individual.

In total, there are 198 drawings in the series, 99 men and 99 women.

Hajra Waheed, 'Antranik Anouchian Passport Portrait Drawing series (Men in Uniforms)', 2010, pencil drawing on paper. Image courtesy Green Cardamom.

Hajra Waheed was born in Calgary, Canada to Muslim-Indian parents, but she grew up in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, within the gated headquarters of Saudi Aramco, a state-owned oil corporation. As the largest oil exporter in the world, Saudi Aramco controls around a quarter of the world’s oil supply, and as a result, the community was subject to stringent access regulations.

Waheed’s work comments on the disjoints that arise within this kind of living situation, and she also examines the complex dynamics of power and privilege that still pervade cross-cultural encounters in the globalising world. Waheed’s practice, however, is more personal than political, and her assemblages of found notes and stationery, architectural schematics and cyphers of her own design read like an intimate journal.

Hajra Waheed, 'Scrapbook page 12', 2010-11, mixed media. Part of the exhibition "The Scrapbook Project". Image courtesy Green Cardamom.

The Scrapbook Project“, a solo exhibition of Hajra Waheed’s most recent work and the artists first in the UK, will be on display at Green Cardamom in London until 9 March 2012. Her artwork can  also be seen in a Green Cardamom-organised group exhibition called “Lines of Control: Partition as a Productive Space“, on at Cornell University’s Johnson Museum of Art until 1 April 2012.


Related Topics: collage, drawing, pencilglobalisation of art, acquisitions

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