Rah: SuperNova | Amanda Rhodenizer: O’er the Western Hills

September 16-December 8, 2021
Presented by the University of Waterloo Art Gallery

Stay-tuned for updates on limited by-appointment exhibition viewing times
Exhibition documentation will be posted online September 30

A panel of three elaborately dressed extraterrestrial judges sit behind a large podium inside of a large theatre


SuperNova is a multidisciplinary video installation informed by Rah’s experiences as a Canadian-Iranian exilic and diasporic artist. Featuring a series of characters that she has performed as over several years including Fatimeh, Oreo and Coco, these carefully conceived personas pointedly deconstruct ethnic and gender stereotypes. In SuperNova, the three fictional personas appear together for the first time as contestants on an American Idol-style galactic talent competition adjudicated by a panel of extraterrestrial judges—all portrayed by the artist. While parodying the tropes endemic to reality television, Rah’s characterizations are a pastiche of racialized stereotypes as well as a pointed critique of Western popular cultures exoticization of the other; from the self-aggrandizing Oreo, to the questionable authenticity of Fatimeh, to the non-binary posthuman Coco who communicates through waacking, a hybrid dance style that emerged from queer and racialized communities in the 1970s. SuperNova is framed by a futuristic screening kiosk that takes the shape of the kind of stargate or warp portal found in science fiction and offers a journey towards an unknowable future.

SuperNova was commissioned by the Carleton University Art Gallery and curated by Heather Anderson in 2019. The installation will also be exhibited at A Space in 2022.

Rah is a media and performance artist who has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally at spaces including: Images Festival, Carleton University Art Gallery, Miami Art Basel, Nieuwe Vide (Netherlands), Art Basel (Switzerland), Cable Factory (Helsinki, Finland), Kunst Am Spreeknie (Berlin), Kunsthaus Graz Museum (Austria), Williams College Museum of Art (MA, USA) and Onassis Cultural Center (Athens, Greece). She has been the recipient of numerous awards and residencies including: Chalmers Arts Fellowship, Canada Council, SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship, ArtSlant Georgia Fee Residency (Paris) and the Studio Das Weisse Haus Residency (Vienna).

A woman with her hair in a ponytail and wearing glasses stands in a darkened room in front of a bright orange window and looks over her left shoulder

O’er the Western Hills

Borrowing its title from a Homer Watson drawing (c. 1875), the paintings in O’er the Western Hills were inspired by representations of settler life found in early Canadian ad campaigns that depicted idealized, anonymous women and a romanticized life “on the frontier”. Each painting was conceived in collaboration with the subjects, who appear in their chosen work attire as either actively engaged in work or caught during an introspective moment in the early morning or late afternoon. Students, temp workers, teachers and retirees from a range of specialized STEM fields are represented: fire safety, water quality, wetland conservation, contaminated site remediation, regenerative permaculture, as well as ethics and justice, accessibility and outreach, and astrophysics. Despite their many professional accomplishments, the lived experiences and day-to-day reality of these members of the science community remains largely dominated by masculinity, whiteness, hetero-cis-normativity, and other privilege. The exhibition is not intended as a recruitment campaign for Women in STEM, but rather as a collection of portraits of female and non-binary workers sharing their experiences as we collectively advance toward the unknown.

Thank you to the following participants for sharing your stories: Alina Alidina, Dana Arends, Nicole Balliston, Nandita Basu, Hannah Carton, Roopali Chaudhary, Jody Daniel, Kim Fellows, Emma McKay, Colleen Mercer Clarke, Cheri Mertes, Katarina Milicic, Monica Orwin, Parshati Patel, Courtney Robichaud, Lauren Smith, Thea Taylor, Nicola Thomas, Emily Verkuil

The artist acknowledges the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund for their generous support of this project.

Amanda Rhodenizer’s paintings draw inspiration from her family’s connection to folk art, antiquated tourism campaigns, and contemporary real estate practices in Canada. She holds an MFA from the University of Waterloo, and a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Orillia Museum of Art & History, Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, and Art Mûr. Recent projects include “The Larger Forgetting” a collaboration with poet Laurie D. Graham, and “Parallel Play” a solo exhibition at ARTsPLACE in Annapolis Royal.

University of Waterloo Art Gallery
East Campus Hall, Room 1239
519.888.4567 ext. 33575

Ivan Jurakic, Director/Curator
519.888.4567 ext. 46741

Please contact the gallery

Ground floor entry
Automated doors available at Fine Arts entrance
Wide pathways
Accessible washrooms on ground level

263 Phillip Street, Waterloo
East Campus Hall (ECH) is located adjacent to Engineering 6 (E6)

Visitor Parking is available in Lot B beside Engineering 6 (E6) for a flat rate of $5

University of Waterloo Art Gallery
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3G1


Image credits: Rah, SuperNova, 2019, HD video, 19:08 min, colour, English/Pahlavi, courtesy of the artist. Amanda Rhodenizer, Hannah at the burn house, 2020, oil and acrylic on canvas, 30 x 36 inches, courtesy the artist.