2nd Artist Announced! – Eshan Rafi

Festivals: M:ST 9 Biennial | September 7 - October 7, 2018.

Karachi 1989 is a duet between the artist and a six-and-a-half-minute segment of archival video footage. Straddling the lines between media art, performance and theatre, Karachi 1989 is about imagining the self, and the self as an other, through acts of looking, reading, recording, and repetition.

The video segment in question was recorded by the artist’s uncle in Karachi, at their family home, in the summer of 1989. The recording takes the viewer on a tour of the house, zooming in on picture frames, dishes drying on the rack, and fragments of faces. In the background, family members taunt the cinematographer – belittling his efforts at following the instructions of his older brother-in-law, to make a “complete image” of the house.

The artist takes apart this video through various methods – by reformulating it as a series of still images, by delving into the political climate of the city at the time, and by pairing it with entirely unrelated texts, such as the novel The Lover by Marguerite Duras. The question being asked here, is what does it mean to be looked at, when acts of looking are mediated by and made possible through relationships of power?


Working in video, photography and performance, Eshan Rafi employs sites, stories, and materials to construct queerly divergent worldviews. Interested in a politics of illegibility, Rafi proposes complex narratives and unstable spaces as counterpoints to systems that name and manage marginal others.

From 2014-2015, Eshan Rafi was a fellow in the Home Workspace Program at Ashkal Alwan, Beirut. They hold a BFA and BEd in Visual Arts from York University. Rafi’s work has been presented at Beirut Art Centre (Beirut, Lebanon), nGBK (Berlin, Germany), and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (Toronto, Canada), among others. Recent residencies include HATCH: Undisciplined Performance at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, and Artist Research Laboratory under the mentorship of Yvonne Rainer & Andrea Kleine at Fondazione Antonio Ratti in Como, Italy.