Midi Onodera

there is superstition (2023)

2023, the 23rd year of the 3rd millennium, is, according to the UN, the international year of Millets. Millet is a super grain – high in protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. It is grown around the world as cereal crops or grains for fodder and human consumption. As the global climate emergency worsens, the war in Ukraine continues and economic disparities rise, we all face degrees of food insecurity.

In these uncertain times, superstitious beliefs can provide a false sense of control over our lives and provide some relief from anxiety. According to Sir James George Frazer in The Golden Bough: A Study of Magic and Religion, “superstitions are found probably in all human societies.” These unscientific beliefs may be religious, cultural, or personal but once you know that a superstition applies, most people don’t want to tempt fate.

This year’s series, There is superstition is a collaboration between myself and 12 guest artists. Each video will focus on a superstition proposed by one of the artists. Through different collaborative methods we will create a short video presented the first of each month. So, I dare you to step on a crack, break a mirror and schedule an important event on the Friday the 13th.

Fatik Baran Mandal, Superstitions: A Culturally Transmitted Human Behavior, International Journal of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, Vol. 8 No. 4, 2018, pp. 65-69. doi: 10.5923/j.ijpbs.20180804.02. http://article.sapub.org/10.5923.j.ijpbs.20180804.02.html

Frazer, Sir James George. “The Golden Bough: A Study of Magic and Religion” Cosmo Publications, 2005.

Jidat Nasi (Rice Forehead)

“Finish your rice, or else your future partner’s forehead won’t be clean” were words that had been engrained in my mind growing up, being told that those who don’t believe in the superstition paid the price. I am in no position to say whether it is true or not, since I do not have a partner yet, but I believe it to be true based on a few encounters with people till now. Regardless of whether it is true or not, I will continue to finish my rice, as I don’t want to waste food either. – Jason Soesilo

Jason Soesilo is a Toronto based Chinese-Indonesian emerging artist whose works investigate cultural traditions, interculturalism, and individuality. His primary media of works revolve around photography and videography. His works has earned him the Photography Award at the Annual Arts, Culture, and Media Student Art Exhibition at the University of Toronto Scarborough, consecutively in 2019 and 2020. He currently works as a freelance lifestyle photographer in Toronto. Jidat Nasi (Rice Forehead) is a collaboration between Jason Soesilo and Midi Onodera.

Posted June 1, 2023

At night your reflection is the most dangerous

Growing up, my mom would cover my mirror every night. When I asked about it, she said it was tradition. However, one night she told me that mirrors were covered to prevent evil spirits from using our reflections to take over our bodies. That spirits used mirrors to travel to our world and that their powers were strongest at night. Afterward, I always made sure my mirror was covered. It is something that stuck with me into adulthood. – Christiana Ceesay

Christiana is an emerging artist, mainly making image and digital-based work. Her work is inspired by her experiences and her Sierra Leonean background. Christiana finds herself both asking and answering, “how did we get here?” and “where are we going?” in her work. She is working on a series about grief and reconnecting to one’s community, titled “From Shore to Shore: The Town That Promised me Freedom.” Last year she did a commissioned photo series for the organization Adornment Stories touching on mental health and blackness. As well she was in Culture Lab’s Festival, “Alice in CypherLand.” “At night your reflection is the most dangerous” is a collaboration between Christiana Ceesay and Midi Onodera.

Posted May 1, 2023

Na Kholo (Don’t Open)

“Don’t open an umbrella indoors, it will bring bad luck” was a common superstition in my household while growing up. As someone whose family was displaced during the Partition in India, and eventually had to move to England; the adoption of this superstition into our cultural beliefs was another result of the British colonial influence. In choosing this superstition I wanted to explore the idea that it is not always those who open the umbrella that receive the bad luck. – Millan Singh Khurana

Na Kholo (Don’t Open) is a collaboration between Milan Singh Khurana and Midi Onodera. Born in England but now based in Toronto, Millan Singh Khurana is an interdisciplinary artist of Punjabi descent whose work often utilizes coding, design, photography, and filmmaking. His diverse experiences inspire and inform the focus on identity, mental health, racism, classism, religion, and other social issues throughout his work. Khurana aims to create provocative pieces to inform viewers of external issues around the world, whilst also aiding them to reflect upon the issues they may be struggling with internally.

Posted April 1, 2023

ابعد البركه و دخل الشر (ward off blessings and bring in evil)

I chose this superstition because I wanted to explore justified and unjustified beliefs. What do we believe? What is the truth? And why? The ‘superstition’ I chose to work with was the act of burning incense. It is believed that burning incense wards off evil and attracts blessings. -Ruba AlWakeal

ابعد البركه و دخل الشر (ward off blessings and bring in evil) is a collaboration between Ruba AlWakeal and Midi Onodera. Ruba AlWakeal works with topics such as identity and religion that they explore through video art, performance, and sometimes sculpture.

Posted March 1, 2023

Poitu Varen (I will go and I will return)

As an attempt to provide reassurance to loved ones living under the same roof, some Tamil people will say the goodbye greeting “poitu varen” which translates to “I will go and I will return”. The same saying can be used when leaving the home of family and close friends, to respectfully reassure them, the stay was enjoyable and hospitable. Despite the distance I plan to travel, when stepping outside of my home, I say this to my mom as reassurance I will be back. Every time these words are shared, I reflect on the feeling of immense gratitude for the time I’ve spent under the same roof of loved ones. -Myuri Srikugan

Myuri Srikugan is a Scarborough-based interdisciplinary artist, working with mediums of video, photography and digital space. Through art, Myuri finds herself on this constant adventure of self-discovery while addressing issues within and around her. As her art forms develop, she finds new ways to express herself and amplify surrounding community voices.

Posted February 1, 2023

an eye for an eye

In Egypt, Lebanon and in many Middle Eastern cultures, the evil eye is a form of protection from a curse that causes misfortune. The amulet can be worn through jewelry or placed around the house and other spaces to ward off evil spirits. The Evil Eye interests me because it is a reminder for me to stay humble with my achievements without flaunting them to protect myself from envy or jealousy that surrounds me that I am unaware of. – Reem Al-Wakeal

The January video is a collaboration between Reem Al-Wakeal and me.
Reem Al-Wakeal is a Toronto based multidisciplinary creative of Egyptian and Lebanese descent. She works with different mediums including video, photography, design and occasionally artist multiples. Her works explore themes of nature and identity such as culture and religion. As an emerging artist, she continues to explore different topics and mediums of work through research. Reem has had her work featured in ARTSIDEOUT, Gallery 1265, in/progress Magazine, the Annual Juried Art Exhibition the Annual ACM Studio Art Exhibition at the University of Toronto, Beaver Hall Gallery, and Trinity Square.

Posted January 1, 2023