12 April—8 September 2024

Sukaina Kubba


Now the Voice of the Second

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 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.

“Now the voice of the second monitor crescendoes: a mustachioed man plays a windpipe of sorts in the tunnel at Spadina Station. You are wearing that same yellow silk-rayon jacket over a black mesh top over a white turtleneck with a blue logo of sorts, and I move closer to you to accommodate a quieter couple. Now the mustachioed man plays Risk in Iran? In Tunisia? Now a spitting wind whisks some nations away at a whim and rusts the green shapes that dot the façade. Now your horoscope tells me: 'that love is the best natural painkiller available'”
Sukaina Kubba


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).

Kubba would like to extend sincere thanks to Nellie Davis, Luther Davis, Chris Kinsler and John Bartolo at Powerhouse Arts Printshop (Brooklyn, NY) for printmaking and production assistance; to Jason Spargo of Sue Spargo (Uniontown, OH) for hand-dyed velvet; Yasaman Kamaliasl for technical assistance on Now the Voice of The Second (2024); and to Levon Kafafian for introducing her to velvet devoré last summer.

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.