AFK | Exhibitions

thinking about forever

Azadeh Elmizadeh, Maryam Tafakory, Shelley Niro, Anna Gronau
Curated by: Jaclyn Quaresma

One Hundred Times, Why?

Azadeh Elmizadeh
Canada | 2020 | Gouache on silk

One hundred silk sheets are arranged in a grid of ten by ten, hung on a blank wall. Each individual silk sheet is painted with gouache and ink, with colours ranging from golden orange, to sky blue, to raw white. The forms on each sheet are similar; a fiery triangle with a horse running through, a rider, Siyavash, on the horse’s back. Each repetition bears its own unique details, indicating that each is individually painted directly onto the silk. Encountering these repeated paintings arranged in a grid evokes a sense of sequence and animation.

It Starts With a Whisper

Shelley Niro, Anna Gronau
Canada | 1993 | 16MM>Digital | 27 MIN | English

It Starts With a Whisper was produced in the Six Nations/Brantford area, with an all-Native cast, and features locations on the Grand River which runs through the Six Nations Reserve. The film blends traditional Iroquois imagery, music and themes with motifs from contemporary, secular life. An original score and innovative visuals make It Starts With a Whisper a delight to watch, as well as a timely challenge to movie stereotypes of First Nations people. Eighteen-year-old Shanna Sabbath, who has grown up on the Reserve, must now decide what path to follow in life. Her aunts’ warmth and humour, and a dream-like encounter with a well-known native leader, help Shanna realize she is loved and is entitled to live her life, remembering and respecting the people of the past and traditional ways.

Gallery Hours

Wednesday - Saturday, 12-5 pm


June 15, 2024, 6-9 pm

Critical Distance Centre for Curators

Suite 122

401 Richmond Street West

Toronto, Ontario M5V 3A8


No street level entrance, ramp and elevator available, automatic doors, door width 32”+. Gendered multi-stall and single stall family washrooms, not accessible (-32” wide), automatic doors. No accessible parking on site.

For a map of Critical Distance Centre for Curators, click here

COVID-19 Policy

Images Festival is committed to providing an accessible festival and continues to work to reduce barriers to participation at our events. This year, we are implementing a COVID-19 policy to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission for all, and to prioritize the participation of people who are disability-identified, immunocompromised, or part of an otherwise vulnerable group.

The following guidelines will be in place: Self-Assessment: We ask that staff and participants screen themselves for COVID-19 before visiting the exhibition.

Refusal is an unwillingness to accept. In an ableist imperialist white supremacist capitalist cis-hetero patriarchy [1], refusal is also a mode of being that requires consistent rehearsal in order for one to sustain themselves against the violence of these interlocking hegemonic systems. How might we conceptualize Rehearsing Refusal? As a practice of consecutive gestures of defiance [2]? Or, as a stepping into the power of otherwise? Might it hold the potential to speak into being healing, provocation, generation, and liberation? Maybe rehearsing refusal, though trying or inconvenient for those on the receiving end, is an act of generosity for future generations. Perhaps it is the process of building a discipline of hope [3]. 

This hopeful, generative, and ongoing refusal plays a role in the work of Shelley Niro and Anna Gronau, Maryam Tafakory and Azadeh Elmizadeh presented in thinking about forever. Each artwork gathered in this exhibition also distorts linear timelines by converging what came before with the present moment, and makes way for possible, enmeshed futures. 

thinking about forever is presented by Images Festival in partnership with Critical Distance Centre for Curators. We would like to extend a special thank you to Charles Street Video and TPW for their support in loaning technical and exhibition materials.

1. bell hooks, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love (New York: Washington Square Press, 2005). See also: bell hooks, “bell hooks and Laverne Cox in a Public Dialogue at The New School,” The New School. October 13, 2014, video,1:36:08.

2. bell hooks, Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black (Toronto: Between the Lines, 1989).

3. Mariame Kaba, We Do This Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice (Chicago, USA: Haymarket Books, 2021). In an interview with Kim Wilson and Brian Sonenstien, Mariame mentions hearing the phrase “discipline of hope” in conversation with a nun, who is unnamed in the book.

Azadeh Elmizadeh

Azadeh Elmizadeh is a visual artist currently based in Toronto. Her practice focuses on painting and collage, drawing inspiration from Sufi cosmologies and Persian miniature painting. She received a Bachelor of Fine Art in Visual Communication and Graphic Design from the University of Tehran (2010), a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Ontario College of Art and Design in Drawing and Painting (2016), and a Master of Fine Art from the University of Guelph (2020). Azadeh has exhibited in solo and two-person exhibitions at the Tube Culture Hall in Milan, Italy (2023), the Southern Alberta Art Gallery in Lethbridge, Canada (2022), and the Franz Kaka in Toronto, Canada (2022). Notable group shows include Now I am a lake at Public Gallery in London, United Kingdom (2022), Crossings: Itineraries of Encounter at The Blackwood in Mississauga, Canada (2022), and Holding a line in your hand at Kamloops Art Gallery in Kamloops, Canada (2021). She was also awarded the Joseph Plaskett Award for Painting in 2020.

Maryam Tafakory

Maryam Tafakory, born in Shiraz, Iran, works with film and performance. Screenings of her work include MoMA, Locarno, IFFR and ICA, amongst others. Her works won awards such as the Best Experimental Short at 70th Melbourne International Film Festival, Gold Hugo Award at 58th Chicago International Festival, Tiger Short Award at 51st IFFR Rotterdam and Barbara Hammer Feminist Award at 60th AAFF.

Shelley Niro

Born in 1954, Niagara Falls, New York, Shelley Niro is a multi-disciplinary artist, and a member of the Six Nations Reserve, Turtle Clan, Bay of Quinte Mohawk. She has worked in a variety of media, including beadwork, painting, photography, and film. Her work challenges stereotypical images of Indigenous Peoples.

Anna Gronau

Born in Montreal in 1951, Anna Gronau later moved to Toronto, where she became a central figure in the city’s co-op filmmaking scene. Between 1980 and 1982 Gronau was Director/Programmer of the Funnel Experimental Film Theatre, and from 1983 to 1985 worked as video distribution manager at Art Metropole. She is also the founder of OFAVACS (Ontario Film and Video Against Censorship Society). Anna has written and lectured on feminism and the avant-garde.

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