Rah Eleh

Rah Eleh is an Iranian-Canadian photo, video and performance artist. She is the recipient of the Ottawa Art Gallery Graduating Student Award of Excellence (2013) and the SAW Video award (2012). She was recently invited by the Williams College Museum of Art to create a performance in response to Diana Abu-Jaber’s book, Crescent. Rah is the 2014 recipient of the Georgia Fee Artist/Writers Residency in Paris, where she will focus on producing a video piece that will stimulate dialogue about contemporary political issues surrounding the veil.

Rah was the only Iranian-Canadian artist in SAW Gallery's Ciphers: Tension with Tradition in Contemporary Iranian Photography, curated by Andrea D. Fitzpatrick, the first-of-its-kind exhibition of Iran’s most critically acclaimed lens-based artists. Rah’s work is also in a traveling exhbibit called Islam Contemporary that will be traveling to North Carolina in March, 2014. Rah’s work has been published and exhibited internationally in USA, Iran, China, Berlin, and London. 

I highlight the challenges that an expatriate may encounter and the space we define as home in the diaspora. Home is not limited to a physical space; rather it is a space where cultural values are transmitted and where there is a sense of belonging politically, culturally and emotionally. As an Iranian-Canadian woman, who was born in Iran but raised in Canada by parents who are political exiles, having duo cultural influences has caused me a great sense of internal conflict. In western visual culture, I am presented with images that either romanticize my Iranian ancestry or dehumanize it in the representation of Iranians as a threat.I use many cultural motifs that are specific to the east in my artistic practice and it may appear as though I am masquerading myself as the “other”. However, it is not my intention to perpetuate the romanticization and fetishization of my culture. My objective is to demonstrate the opposing cultural axiology that causes feelings of ambivalence and to critically highlight this exoticism and dehumanization. ~Rah



List of Works