Faisal Anwar tackles the big questions in his works. In one of his latest ones, he's asking Halton Hills and the wider regional community about what home means to them.
For the past several weeks, Anwar has been aggregating Instagram posts from residents that illustrate their ideas of home. People hoping to take part can simply post pictures with the hashtag #APlaceICallHomeHalton, and tag the related Instagram account.
The images are being compiled as part of a series of art installations across Halton Region, including Halton Hills. The piece will be on display Oct. 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the John Elliott Theatre for Culture Days, but residents can keep using the hashtag well after that.
“I think [people are] losing their sense of home,” said Anwar, an artist of Pakistani descent living in Oakville. “They're losing a sense of home due to the changes we are going through right now.”
Anwar describes himself as a "hybrid artist" and a "creative technologist" who "works at the intersection of art, design and technology."
As someone who thinks deeply about questions surrounding belonging and identity, he says he has noticed social media’s power to make people live in “this virtual sort of belonging.”
“You look at the young kids, they have different associations with belonging,” he said. “These are these odd encounters and odd spaces, what I call them, which we live in right now.”
He wants to help people “rediscover or rethink” belonging. Anwar is keeping the prompts for submission to a minimum to encourage a wide range of creativity. However, he wants participants to “think deeply” about the concept of home and belonging.
The Halton project is the second iteration of the series. Anwar started his little thought experiment about home with residents of Winnipeg in February of this year. The success of that project spurred the latest one.
“Everybody is using smartphones and they're capturing these different sorts of images as we all do,” Anwar said. “It’s a question of why are you taking these pictures? What are the emotions and connections you have based on what you see and like?”
Much of the inspiration for the project comes from Anwar’s own experiences as an immigrant. He and his wife moved to Canada in 2003. Questions about what it means to belong and be home started swirling in their heads at that time. Looking around, he noticed other immigrants near him asking similar questions.
These experiences and observations helped him notice the commonalities between everyone he meets.
“There's always this question of where do you belong?” Anwar said. “It's important for us to really take a moment and really think about what that means to us as communities.”
During the free display at the John Elliott Theatre, live musicians will perform concurrently with the interactive installation.
"Faisal Anwar's work engages the public in an imaginative, contemporary way that makes it an ideal fit for Culture Days, asking the public to reflect on and share their personal concept of home, through art and technology," Culture Days producer Pearl Schachter told HaltonHillsToday.
For further details, visit the Culture Days website.