The fight against being categorised

What is it like to live in Finland as a woman with an immigrant background? What sorts of stereotypes and assumptions are encountered on the basis of gender and culture?
Fouzieh Feizi (on left) is the second woman whose life story is told by Sepideh in the first part of her production, “A Dream That Came True?” The videos tell of women’s dreams, successes and difficulties. Photo: Aleksi Poutanen

Artist Sepideh Rahaa attempts to highlight the invisible structures that affect the life of women from the Middle East in Finland.

As an Iranian woman, Sepideh, who moved to Finland five years ago to complete her second Master’s degree, encounters a range of stereotyped attitudes. “ I’ve been told that I am in no way a typical Iranian woman. But there is no such thing, after all – we’re all individuals.”

In her video production A Dream That Came True? and in her photo series Hybrid identities, Sepideh examines the life stories of women who have moved from the Middle East to Finland and lived in this country for over ten years.

With her works, she wants to break down current stereotypes with regard to culture and gender.

“We’re all people who have feelings: we love, we hate, we laugh. A person’s humanity, not their nationality, should come first.”

In her art, Sepideh has closely examined her own identity as a woman who migrated from Iran to Finland. Even if Sepideh’s art has its source in her, she views it as highly important that it also reaches other people and places in the community, generating discussion.

“Art belongs to everybody – not just certain circles. I want to generate discussion and create a space where it is possible to think about and experience art. I believe that we can change things together.”

The first part of the “A Dream That Came True?” exhibition will shown in Helsinki until 11 December in the gallery Myymälä 2 (Uudenmaankatu 23, Helsinki). 

Sepideh Rahaa received EUR 35.000 grant in 2016 for her project A dream that came true?