featured project

Sukaina Kubba, Jealousy: Now the Voice of the Second

Project Team Members (Powerhouse Arts Staff): Luther Davis, Nellie Davis, Chris Kinsler and John Bartolo

Commissioned by Mercer Union, 2023

A tall, oversized black and white artwork resembling curtains mounted on the exterior of a brick apartment building

project overview

Mercer Union’s SPACE billboard commission has invited artist Sukaina Kubba for its 2023–24 season for a yearlong series titled “Jealousy.” Formally trained as an architect, Kubba deploys transitional objects and textiles alongside historical research and narrative fiction to propose novel methods of unpacking and relating to cultural artifacts. Through sculpture, drawing, embroidery, and various forms of image transfer, her practice is a study of motifs in heirlooms and fiber objects of high trade, that are often activated by historical and fictional characters.

In March of 2024 artist Suakaina Kubba collaborated with Powerhouse Arts to work on their piece Jealousy: Now the Voice of the Second. The process involved our print team screen printing on the back side of the velvet fabric. In order to get the correct orientation the image had to be reversed beforehand. After the initial printing, the chemical had to sit on the fabric to dissolve the cellulose of the fiber that attaches the fiber to the backing fabric. Once that step was completed, an iron was used to apply heat which caused the velvet fibers to fall from the fabric. This chemical reaction reveals a delicate polyester mesh backing juxtaposing the preserved velvet material.

Working with materials such as photo emulsion, plastic filament, and various sheer fabrics, Jealousy presents three sculptural works, each forging an impression of the one before to form a series of abstracted theatrical drapes. Prompted by the history of Mercer Union’s building as a cinema in the early part of the last century, these works come together as adverts for a fictional premiere: a new film adaptation of Alain Robbe-Grillet’s 1957 novel La Jalousie. Noting the double-meaning of the title (“jealousy” or “louvered window”), Kubba attunes to the history and architecture of the building, taking cues from the various mediating forms punctuating its façade—vents, chutes, and other porous passages—that elicit transgression and permit the senses to travel.

Jealousy: Now the Voice of the Second is the final edition in the yearlong series; the title is borrowed from the chapter “Now the voice of the second driver” in La Jalousie (1957) by Alain Robbe-Grillet. An accompanying text is forthcoming.

The other two installations of this series:

Greater Toronto Art 2024, MOCA Toronto, Mar – Jul 2024

Turn Me Into a Flower, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Apr – Aug 2024

artist biography

Sukaina Kubba is an Iraqi-born Toronto-based artist who explores narratives of cultural and material assimilation and appropriation. Kubba will present her first institutional solo exhibition in the United Kingdom at Dundee Contemporary Arts, Scotland in April 2024. Her work is included in the triennial exhibition Greater Toronto Art, MOCA Toronto (2024); and in exhibitions at the plumb, Toronto (2023); The Next Contemporary, Toronto (2023); Aga Khan Museum, Toronto (2017); Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow (2016); and Glasgow International (2016, 2014). Kubba recently completed residencies at the International Studio and Curatorial Program, New York; and La Wayaka Current, Atacama Desert, Chile. She is a sessional lecturer in Visual Studies at the University of Toronto, and previously served as curator and lecturer at The Glasgow School of Art (2013–2018).

Photos: Vuk Dragojevic.