9 September 2023—12 January 2024

Sukaina Kubba


Now the Shadow

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 artefacts. Through sculpture, drawing, embroidery, and various forms of image transfer, her practice is a study of motifs in heirlooms and fibre objects of high trade, that are often activated by historical and fictional characters.

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 Shadow is the first edition in the yearlong series; the title is borrowed from the chapter “Now the shadow of the column” in La Jalousie (1957) by Alain Robbe-Grillet. Accompanying the work is a forthcoming text written by Natascha Nanji.

“Now the shadow of the furls is dark and the colours are mute. The seats—which were also velvet red a minute ago—are now grey. She cannot see the mechanism by which the curtain is hoisted, but knows the type of rope they use. Now the rope is wound, and the film reel is triggered. Now the shadow has disappeared.”
Sukaina Kubba


Sukaina Kubba is an Iraqi-born Toronto-based artist who explores narratives of cultural and material assimilation and appropriation. Kubba's work has been included in recent exhibitions at the plumb, Toronto (2023); The Next Contemporary, Toronto (2023); Art Gallery of Ontario (2019); Aga Khan Museum, Toronto (2017); Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow (2016); and Glasgow International (2016, 2014). Recent residencies include International Studio and Curatorial Program, New York; and La Wayaka Current, Atacama Desert, Chilé. Kubba is a sessional lecturer in Visual Studies at the University of Toronto, and previously served as curator and lecturer at Glasgow School of Art (2013–2018).

Kubba would like to extend sincere thanks to Omar Kaltrachian for technical and production assistance on Now the Shadow (2023).

About the Series

SPACE invites one artist to produce a yearlong series of images for a public-facing billboard located on the east façade of Mercer Union.