Rah Eleh

Rah is an Iranian-Canadian video, photo and performance artist who is currently based out of Toronto. Her work has been published and exhibited in galleries and museums internationally including: Williams College Museum of Art (Massachusetts), Cutlog Contemporary Art Fair (New York), Kunsthaus Graz Museum (Austria) and MUU Galleria (Finland).

In her work, Rah Eleh focuses on and critiques the visual stereotypes and performative aspects that shape female gender identity and Iranian ethnic identity. She questions while also attempts to assert gender and cultural identity from a Canadian-Iranian, diasporic perspective.

Rah Eleh is interested in how race and gender are in perpetual performance in both the eastern and western world. Fantasy shifts into the spotlight, be it the fantasy of the viewer or her own. These characteristics of her work confront the viewer but also invite them to be visual anthropologists as they reflect on their relationships with the racialized female body. Furthermore, she also highlights the challenges that an expatriate may encounter and the space that is defined as ‘home’ in a diasporic context.

Her recent film, “Dear Sister” works with these premises as well providing an intimate view of the struggles of five sisters in the context of gender and cultural identity. “Dear Sister” was screened at SomoS in August 2016 as part of the ongoing Cinema Conversación series that invites directors working on critical social issues to present and discuss their work.

Before speaking at SomoS, Rah was the recipient of the Studio Das Weisse Haus residency in Vienna and Artslant’s Georgia Fee Artist/ Writers Residency in Paris in 2014. The same year she was invited to do a two month placement in Paris where she focused on producing her award-winning video Oreo. She was also the only Iranian-Canadian artist in SAW Galleries Ciphers: Tension with Tradition in Contemporary Iranian Photography which was curated by PhD. Andrea D. Fitzpatrick and was a first-of-its-kind exhibition of Iran’s most critically acclaimed lens-based artists. In 2012, Rah’s video Eslah (2012) appeared in Art Journal, Vol. 8 in a scholarly article by Francine Dagenais (PhD) published in Tehran, Iran. Most recently, CineWomen Cahier, a biennial publication based out of Paris dedicated a twelve-page spread to Rah’s work Oreo. Rah is represented by Vtape, Canada’s leading artist-run distributor for video art.