12Gates & PAAFF's Contemporary Video Art Exhibition 2023

Experimental, Contemporary video art
South and South-West Asia, North Africa (SSWANA)

The 5th iteration of the Contemporary Video Art Exhibition celebrates contemporary video art—that is, contemporary art using recorded moving images—created by artists from South and South-West Asia, North Africa (SSWANA), as well as artists of indentured Indian descent and their diasporas. This 5th edition of the juried show will be co-presented by Twelve Gates Arts (12G) and the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival (PAAFF).

Subjects and themes for the exhibit include queer, controversial, poetic, abstract, political, philosophical, uncensored – anything that stretches beyond conventional. We look forward to producing a thought-provoking and inspiring exhibit to follow the well-received exhibits in 2015, 2016, and 2019, which drew submissions from contemporary artists across the globe.

About the selectors, producers, curators, and jury:

Ayesha Ali Ahmed is a writer and freelance editor living in Chicago. She has a background in film editing, curation, and arts journalism. Ayesha graduated from the London School of Economics with an MSc in Media and Communications and has consistently worked in creative fields since then. Her primary focus in all of these has been to use visual storytelling to raise and enhance understanding of the origins of social stigmas that relate to health, literacy, and cultural mores, particularly for women in the South Asian context.

Jenna Hamed is an artist and art worker based in Queens. Hamed obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Apparel, Textiles, and Merchandising from Eastern Michigan University, and a Master’s Degree in Arts Politics from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her work centers on collaboration and public engagement through performance, image-making, and poetry.

Mehrin (Mir) Masud-Elias, who writes under the penname Mir Elias, is a poet, writer, lawyer, and immigrant in the US from Dhaka, Bangladesh. She currently serves as the general counsel of the Abramson Cancer Center at Penn Medicine. She has published poems in collected editions and journals and written essays for a Leeway Foundation grant-funded food blog. Her debut collection of experimental poetry, Of Fish People, is in the submission process for poetry prizes. Mir is a founding director of Twelve Gates Arts, a non-profit transnational arts organization as well as a member of the Board of Pasión y Arte, a contemporary Flamenco dance company. She co-hosts and curates the bi-monthly 12G Poetic Circle at Twelve Gates Arts. She is the recipient of the 2021 Peregrine Prize from the Academy of American Poets and the Universe in Verse prize from The Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania. Mir is a graduate of Amherst College (BA), Columbia Law School (JD), and the University of Pennsylvania (MBE, SCAN Certificate), and also completed coursework at CALTECH in Theoretical Physics.

Sonali Gulati is an independent filmmaker, a feminist, a grass-roots activist, and an educator. She is a Professor of film at Virginia Commonwealth University's School of the Arts in the Department of Photography & Film. She has an MFA in Film & Media Arts from Temple University and a BA in Critical Social Thought from Mount Holyoke College. Gulati grew up in New Delhi and has made several short films and a feature-length documentary that has screened at over four hundred film festivals worldwide. Her films have screened at venues such as the Hirshhorn Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and at film festivals such as the Margaret Mead Film Festival, the Black Maria Film Festival, and at several LGBTQ film festivals. Gulati’s award-winning films have been broadcasted on public television and cable TV worldwide. She has won awards, grants, and fellowships from the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Creative Capital Foundation, the Third Wave Foundation, the World Studio Foundation, the Robert Giard Memorial Fellowship, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship.

Atif Sheikh is the co-founder of 12G and a resident curator. Sheikh has curated art exhibitions such as "Not so black & white" 2010, "Cinephiliac" 2013, perform(art)ive 2015, Lived Experiences 2016, "I Bear Witness" 2016, "Take It Like A ... ; Contemporary Trends In The Aesthetics Of Violence” 2019, and co-curated "New Asian Futurisms" at Asian Arts Initiative 2019 and "Breathing Room" at Leonard Pearlstein Gallery 2020. He was on the jury twice for the Women’s Voices Now Film Festival, at Fleisher Art Memorial’s Wind Challenge Exhibition in 2019, and the 12G Contemporary Video Arts Exhibition since 2015.

Arzhang Zafar is a writer and film programmer based in Philadelphia, currently serving as a programming director for the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. Arzhang is originally from the Bay Area and has a background in video art and both critical and creative writing.

To be considered for 12G & PAAFF's Contemporary Video Art Exhibition, the filmmakers must describe how their submitted work relates to the ESSWANA region in the cover letter section.

All works must be under 20 minutes.

Please include a brief biography of the artist/filmmaker, and full details of the work including title, length, date of production, synopsis, and stills from the video (for marketing purposes).

Works must have been completed within the past 2 years.

You may submit more than one work.

There is a submission fee of $7.00 USD. If this poses a barrier for you, please contact us via 12gArtFilm@twelvegatesarts.org to request a fee waiver.

You certify that you have full authorization for the use of the music in the submitted work.

You certify that you have full authorization to enter the submitted artwork into this festival.

You hold 12G & PAAFF's Contemporary Video Art Exhibition harmless from any damages to the submitted material, and harmless from any and all claims of liability resulting from your entry.

All artworks selected for the festival grant 12G & PAAFF's Contemporary Video Art Exhibition the rights to use stills, and press materials from the film/work for promotional purposes.

Selection for the festival will be made by the Jury Committee.

Submitting your work to 12G & PAAFF's Contemporary Video Art Exhibition entails that you have read, understand, and agree to the submission guidelines listed above.

Twelve Gates Arts (12G) is a nonprofit (501(c)(3)) organization created with the aim to showcase international multidisciplinary arts bound by the sensibilities of diasporic identity, especially the South Asian identity, and to create and promote projects in the community that cross geographic and cultural boundaries.

Overall Rating
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  • Shirin Maleki

    It was a great experience to be a part of even though I could not be there in person.

    September 2022