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A journal for storytelling, arguments, and discovery through tangential conversations.
'What is always already in place': in conversation with Mitra Fakhrashrafi
Wednesday, February 17, 2021 | Dhvani Ramanujam
I still haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Mitra Fakhrashrafi in person. Amidst a global pandemic, our conversation took place on a quiet afternoon in late October, over a Zoom call from two separate cities  I, from Toronto and she, from Montreal. I’ve known of Mitra’s work for a few years now, and we have a few mutual friends. Maybe that’s why despite the awkwardness I had anticipated by doing this interview online, we instead quickly settled into an intimate, and conversation about her curatorial practice. Although Mitra is temporarily located in Montreal, much of her curatorial work is rooted in the specificity of Toronto. Mitra grew up spending most of her life in different pockets of Toronto. Having recently graduated with an MA in Geography from the University of Toronto, her ability to think deeply about how we make space is something that filters through the work she has curated both independently and collaboratively. She co-curated Habibiz (2019), a group exhibit that examined Toronto's Shisha ban, considering what it means to illegalize already hypersurveilled spaces, as well as Sanctuary Inter/rupted, (2018) which critically interrogated the notion of Toronto as a sanctuary city, in response to a 2013 city council motion that gave the city that status. She also curated Salam from Niagara Falls / سلام از آبشار نیاگارا , a 2019 exhibit for the Contact Photography Festival that took up first- and second-generation Afghan and Iranian home-making in the context of ongoing settler colonialism on Turtle Island. While these three aforementioned exhibits featured work that often dealt with personal and intimate relationships to place and land, each of the exhibits are always already connected to larger transnational issues of hyper-surveillance, displacement, border imperialism, and colonialism.