Farihah Aliyah Shah Billboard Project at AKA and PAVED Arts

Papaya Dreams
Farihah Aliyah Shah

May 15 to June 30, 2024
Billboard Co-presented by AKA Artist-Run & PAVED Arts

This series began with a comment by my mother about fruit (specifically the papaya) not tasting the same here in Canada as it did back home in Guyana. The work is an exploration of my diasporic identity which at times feels like a fever dream; one part rooted, while the other in nostalgia, memories, and inherited stories that I resonate with and yet can’t grasp their magnitude. Although the papaya doesn’t taste the same, eating it with my mother and other members of the community feels like a portal to “home”.

In this tryptic, there is an image of the papaya in my grandmother’s house (now owned by my aunt) captured in my first visit to Victoria Village, Guyana alongside the fruit freshly cut open in my kitchen in Bradford, Ontario, and another of it held in my hand with the backdrop of our suburb. The fruit shifts geographically, its shape and form adapt and differs with every transition, the taste is altered, and yet the experience and tradition it holds remains.

– Farihah Aliyah Shah

Farihah Aliyah Shah is a contemporary lens-based artist originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (Treaty 6) 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.

Using photography, video, sound, and installation, Shah’s research and lens-based practice explores identity formation through the colonial gaze, forced migration in relation to labour of goods and services, race, connectivity to land, and collective memory. She analyzes and critiques the photographic canon while building new narratives and archives that narrow gaps within her personal history addressing intersectionalities of her identity: multi-diasporic, female-identified, Black, Caribbean, etc.

Shah was the 2019 recipient of the John Hartman Award, long-listed in 2022 for the New Generation Photography Award, and the 2023 recipient of the CCI x WOPA Fellowship at the Perez Art Museum of Miami (PAMM). Shah is also the co-founding member of Mast Year Collective; an artist duo exploring kinship through collective practice. She has exhibited internationally in Asia, Europe, and North America.

AKA Artist-run is a centre for emergent practices for artists at any stage of their careers, providing space and support for critical, safe, and open exchange. AKA’s artistic direction considers the intentionality behind our founding – led by a female artist collective making space in Saskatoon for experimental art practices. Our relevance is tied to our ability to take risks, to be responsive and agile in our support of artists and their ideas.

PAVED Arts is a non-profit, artist-run centre and gallery that exists to advance knowledge and practices in what we call the ‘PAVED Arts’ arts: photography, audio, video, electronic and digital. We help artists and independent producers make and exhibit their work.

424 20th Street West
Saskatoon, SK S7M 0X4
306 491-6102 | Accessible
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424 20th Street West
Saskatoon, SK S7M 0X4
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AKA and PAVED Arts are an artist-run centres operating on Treaty Six Land that encompasses the traditional homeland of numerous First Nations, including Cree, Dene, Plains Cree, Nakota, Saulteaux, and Ojibwe, and the homeland of the Métis Nation.