Rah-Eleh’s iden­tity is­sues

The Ira­nian-Cana­dian artist’s hu­mourous one-woman show ex­plores race, gen­der and pol­i­tics.

The Coast - - ARTS - BY BRAN­DON YOUNG

Su­per­Nova To Septem­ber 17 Art Gallery of Nova Sco­tia, 1723 Hol­lis Street

Ira­nian- Cana­dian artist Rah-Eleh is bring­ing her tal­ents to the Art Gallery of Nova Sco­tia to de­but her video in­stal­la­tion Su­per

Nova. As one of many artists vis­it­ing Hal­i­fax for the Prismatic Arts Fes­ti­val, her work of­fers a look at di­verse and marginal­ized iden­ti­ties, with a bit of hu­mour.

Pre­sented as a game-show par­ody that mim­ics the tropes of pop­u­lar re­al­ity TV shows like Amer­i­can Idol, Su­per­Nova “re-con­tex­tu­al­izes his­tor­i­cal mark­ers of iden­tity and presents them in the fu­ture to be de­con­structed, re-eval­u­ated and re­con­fig­ured.” Us­ing char­ac­ters, like her con­stantly present per­son­al­ity Oreo, Rah-Eleh ex­am­ines racial pu­rity, ex­oti­cism and self-iden­ti­fi­ca­tion in an in­creas­ingly in­ter­sec­tional world.

And Rah-Eleh knows all about iden­tity is­sues: Hav­ing grown up in Gatineau, Que­bec, the artist ex­pe­ri­enced racism and xeno­pho­bia that she says still plagues the re­gion.

“Grow­ing up in a small Fran­co­phone com­mu­nity as an an­glo­phone, queer, Ira­nian, woman of colour, I had in­ter­nal­ized white supremacy at many points in my life,” she says. “A lot of peo­ple from di­verse back­grounds can re­ally re­spond to that im­po­si­tion of white supremacy that they’ve in­ter­nal­ized them­selves.” As part of her MFA the­sis project, Su­per

Nova will see the Western Univer­sity grad­u­ate play mul­ti­ple char­ac­ters in­clud­ing tal­ent judges, a tele­vi­sion host, au­di­ence mem­bers and con­tes­tants Fa­timeh, Coco and Oreo. “It’s a big and am­bi­tious project,” she says.

With more ex­po­sure planned for 2019, in­clud­ing a show­ing at La Ga­lerie du Nou­velOn­tario, as well as a se­ries of univer­sity lec­tures, Rah-Eleh is in­tent on spread­ing her ideas and art.

“I hope peo­ple take time to re­flect and think about their re­la­tion­ship with the rad­i­cal­ized fe­male body and gen­der, and to think about the ideas that I my­self am spec­u­lat­ing about,” says Rah-Eleh. “I hope they can en­ter into this space with me.”

Amer­i­can Idol par­o­dist Rah-Eleh.

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