Divya Mehra: From India to Canada and Back to India (There is nothing I can possess which you cannot take away)

About the Exhibition

Curated By

John G. Hampton

Organized By

The MacKenzie Art Gallery


Kenderdine Gallery

As a prelude to Vision Exchange: Perspectives from India to Canada, the MacKenzie Art Gallery will present new and recent work by Canadian artist, Divya Mehra. During a site visit to the gallery, Mehra’s research uncovered a peculiar story about a small stone sculpture in the University of Regina’s collection, held in trust and stewarded by the gallery. The sculpture—misidentified and catalogued as the Hindu deity, Vishnu— was acquired through questionable means by the gallery’s namesake, Norman MacKenzie, during a trip to Banares, India in 1913. The story of this object is not entirely unique, but it is something that contemporary galleries must confront in order to heal the cultural harms embedded within their foundations. For her project, Mehra will stage an intervention into the permanent collection, performing a conceptual heist that deftly and playfully addresses the practices, ideologies, and legacies of collectors and benefactors of the early twentieth century. Alongside this new installation, Mehra will present two recent inflatable artworks—one a 15’ replica of the Taj Mahal, the other an 8’ replica of Edward Said’s influential book, Orientalism—that caricurize desires to simultaneously define and consume the histories and identities of other cultures.

Explore the work of Divya Mehra on CBC’s In the Making! Stream the episode now.

Presented in conjunction with Vision Exchange: Perspectives from India to Canada organized by the Art Gallery of Alberta and the National Gallery of Canada | Organisée par l’Art Gallery of Alberta et le Musée des beaux-arts du Canada 

About the Artist

Working in sculpture, print, drawing, artist books, installation, advertising, video, and most recently film, Divya Mehra is known for her meticulous attention to the interaction of form, medium, and site. Through an acerbic tone, she addresses the long-term effects of colonization and institutional racism. Re-contextualizing references found in music, literature, and current affairs, she contends with contemporary expressions of societies continuously formed by their colonial roots. Mehra’s work has been included in a number of exhibitions and screenings, notably with Creative Time, MoMA PS1, MTV, and The Queens Museum of Art (New York), MASS MoCA (North Adams), Artspeak (Vancouver), Art Metropole, and The Images Festival (Toronto), The Beijing 798 Biennale (Beijing), Bielefelder Kunstverein (Bielefeld), and Latitude 28 (Delhi). Mehra holds an MFA from Columbia University and is represented in Toronto by Georgia Scherman Projects.