Farihah Aliyah Shah

Photographed by Sarah Bodri

Using photography, video, sound, and installation, Farihah Aliyah Shah’s research and lens-based practice explored identity formation through the colonial gaze, migration, race, connectivity to land, and collective memory. In the context of her CCI fellowship, Shah expanded on two ongoing bodies of work: Along the Demerara (2017– ), which documented processing grief, reclaiming identity, and examining colonial histories, and Looking for Lucille (2017– ), an unconventional portrait of the artist’s late grandmother, whom she never met. The aim was to research collective resistance, archival preservation, and the role of the matriarch by engaging with archival material that documented Victoria Village and the Guyanas. Shah explored printing photographs on paper and fabric, incorporating hand embroidery and the collection of sight-specific ambient sound to build sound- and videoscapes that she sequenced in relation to the historical information she discovered. Future iterations of these series will explore alternative methods of recording (family albums, oral histories, tapestry, and cuisine). Through her work, Shah questioned processes of authorization of “legitimate” forms of preservation and challenged colonial erasure—such as limiting access to archives or altering education, as is evident in the recent history of Florida and other spaces—compounded by diasporic intergenerational loss. Shah presented her research methods and outputs of her creative explorations in a series of tableaux and participated in the international symposium “On the Edge of Visibility,” which took place at PAMM in October 2023.  

To learn about some of the highlights of Farihah’s CCI + WOPHA fellowship at PAMM, see visual essay below.

Farihah Aliyah Shah is a contemporary lens-based artist originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (Treaty 6), and now based in Bradford, Ontario, Canada (Treaty 18). She holds a BHRM from York University and a BFA in Photography with a minor in Integrated Media from OCAD University in Toronto, Ontario. Shah was the 2019 recipient of the John Hartman Award and long-listed in 2022 for the New Generation Photography Award. She is a member of Gallery 44  Centre for Contemporary Photography and of Women Photograph, and she is a cofounding member of Mast Year Collective, an artist duo exploring kinship through collective practice. Shah has exhibited internationally in Asia, Europe, and North America. 

The 2023 CCI + WOPHA Fellowship is presented in collaboration with Women Photographers International Archive.

Farihah Aliyah Shah. About Land, 2024. Digital color video, with sound, 3 min. © Farihah Aliyah Shah. Courtesy the artist