Rah (Raheleh Saneie) is one of the Artists in Residence in our Fall 2014 residency period at studio das weisse haus.

Artist`s statement

“What does it mean to be an Iranian diasporic woman? Culturally, it may mean that one feels a sense of displacement and loss. It may also mean that one has adopted the values and ideologies of two different and sometimes even opposing social norms and beliefs. A diasporic individual is one who may have voluntarily chosen to migrate or has been forced to relocate.

In my work I focus on and critique the visual stereotypes and performative aspects that shape female gender identity and Iranian ethnic identity. My perspective is that of a Iranian-Canadian who is questioning while also trying to assert gender and cultural identity. In particular, I focus on the performances through which individuals express such identities and I critique the value and legitimacy of identity and cultural expression.

Further, I am interested in how race and gender are in perpetual performance in both the eastern and the western world. While performing these stereotypes, I focus on fantasy, whether it is the viewer’s fantasy, or my own. These characters confront the viewer but invite them to be a visual anthropologist as they reflect on their relationship with the racialized female body.

Furthermore, 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.

Further, In many of these works I am actively removing and concealing aspects of my identity and by bringing the viewer into intimate contact with acts that are usually performed in private and I attempt to create feelings of closeness and familiarity. My performance becomes an offer of intimacy and access.”


Raheleh Saneie “Rah” is an Iranian- Canadian video, photo and performance artist. In 2013, Rah won the Ottawa Art Gallery Graduating Student Award of Excellence and in 2012 she won the SAW Video award. Rah was also the recipient of Artslant’s Georgia Fee Artist/ Writers Residency in Paris. Further, Rah was 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, was published in Art Journal, Vol. 8, a scholarly article written by PhD. Francine Dagenais and was published in Tehran, Iran. Rah’s work has been published and exhibited internationally in Ottawa, Toronto, New York, Massachusetts,North Carolina, Iran, China, Berlin, and London. Rah’s work is also in a traveling exhibition called “Islam Contemporary” that will be traveling to Philadelphia in November, 2014 at Twelve Gates Art.

Represented by PDA Projects, Ottawa, ON

Solo Exhibitions:

Williams College Museum of Art, Curated by Ph.D. Maurita N. Poole, “Oriental Barbie.”, MA, USA, 2013

Group Exhibitions:

Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Centre, Curated by Artslant, “Cutlog NY.”, New York, USA, 2014
Xpace Cultural Centre, Curated by FADO and Kate Barry, “11:45.”, Toronto, ON, 2014
Rosenthal Gallery, Curated by Aziz Sohail, “Islam Contemporary.”, North Carolina, USA, 2014
Performance Space, Curated by Maria Unpronounceable, “Toothache Duets.”, London, UK, 2013
SAW Gallery, Curated by Jason St. Laurent, “Transformer. The Body Remixed.”, Ottawa, ON, 2013
Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, Curated by Abdul Aziz Sohail, “Islam Contemporary.”, MA, US, 2013
Villa Kuriosom, Curated by Amirali Ghasemi and Friederike Berat, “It’s Normal.”, Berlin, Germany, 2012
Orange Art Gallery, Curated by Ashley White, “Art and Afghan Women: From Kabul to the Capital.”, Ottawa, ON, 2012
SAW Gallery, Curated by PhD. Andrea Fitzpatrick, “Ciphers: Tension with Tradition in Contemporary Iranian Photography.”, Ottawa, ON, 2012


Animation Festival, Commission, Ottawa, 2014
Artslant Georgia Fee Artist/ Writer Residency, Paris, 2014
Ottawa Art Gallery Graduating Student Award of Excellence, 2013
SAW Video Award, 2012
New Perspective Conference, 2011
Dean of Research, University of Ottawa, Topic: Perspectives of Aging


Ottawa Citizen, 2014
Guerilla Art Magazine, Ottawa, 2014
Boston Globe USA, 2013
Herdmag, Vol 2, Ottawa, 2013
Art Journal, Vol 8, Tehran, Iran, 2013
Jastar Model, Shanghai, China, 2012
Metro Newspaper, Ottawa, 2012
Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa, 2012
Apartment 613, Ottawa, 2012
2BMag, Montreal, 2012
Voir, Quebec, 2012
Tehran Times, Tehran, Iran, 2012
PressTV, Tehran, Iran, 2012




Rah_Sound of Strings_2012_ FilmStill

Rah, Sound of Strings, film still, 2014

WCMA at Night Cultural Snapshots

Rah, Oriental Barbie, Performance, 2013


Rah, Oreo, film still, 2014

Rah_ Ululation_6hour Durational Performance_2014

Rah, Ululational, 6 hour durational performance, 2014

4 thoughts on “Rah

  1. Pingback: A warm Welcome for our new Residents |

  2. Pingback: A warm Welcome to our new Residents |

  3. Pingback: Open Studio Day |

  4. Pingback: Open Studio Day |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s