3 June 2018 12pm - 3pm

SESSION: Rouzbeh Akhbari, Faraz Anoushahpour, Parastoo Anoushahpour and Ryan Ferko


Mercer Union is delighted to launch Session, a project modelling itself after an incubator that invites cultural practitioners to engage with questions that emerge out of a given exhibition. Taking the form of workshops, conversations or teach-ins, Session is interested in developing a dialogue between peers based on shared commitments and engagements. Each Session is led by artists, writers, educators and other cultural practitioners who might engage with the ambiguous, contentious or problematic aspect of a project, based on their own thinking and practice.

Our inaugural Session looks at Gulf imaginaries foreseen throughout the region and its peripheries in history and in myth. It is an attempt to shift discourse on the Middle East away from notions of dystopia. This incubator will begin with two projects that emerged out of archival material located in Toronto (CA) and London (UK), were serendipitously set in motion around the same time in Tehran, and developed through divergent yet mirrored timelines. In Chooka (2018), a film by Faraz Anoushahpour, Parastoo Anoushahpour, Ryan Ferko, and Prizes from Fairyland (2018), by Rouzbeh Akhbari, the artists investigate the involvement of foreigners in the transformation of local landscapes as well as the promises and mysteries embedded in archives. Each film, however, arrives at a different place, undoing presumed narratives. Through looking back at the various encounters, protagonists and informants that figured into their respective projects, the incubator will offer a moment to reconsider the persistent belief in futures that do not align with the past or present.

This Session is hosted by Rouzbeh Akhbari, Faraz Anoushahpour, Parastoo Anoushahpour and Ryan Ferko and moderated by Mahshid Rafiei.

Rouzbeh Akhbari is an artist working in video installation and film. His practice is research-driven and usually exists at the intersections of political economy, critical architecture and human geography. Through a delicate examination of the violence and intimacy that occurs at the boundaries of lived experience and constructed histories, Akhbari uncovers the minutiae of power that organizes and regiments the world around us.

Parastoo Anoushahpour, Faraz Anoushahpour, and Ryan Ferko have worked in collaboration since 2013. Using various performative structures to work in relation to specific sites, their projects explore collaboration as a way to upset the authority of a singular narrator or position. Currently based in Toronto, recent film and installation work has been shown at Projections (New York Film Festival), Wavelengths (Toronto International Film Festival), International Film Festival Rotterdam, Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Portland International Film Festival, Media City Festival (Windsor/Detroit), Experimenta (Bangalore), Crossroads Festival (San Francisco), and ZK/U Centre for Art & Urbanistics (Berlin), Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography (Toronto), SPACES Art Centre (Cleveland), and Trinity Square Video (Toronto).

Space is limited; please RSVP to or 416.536.1519