Unbound: Stories from Behind the Dust Exhibit Launch

Unbound: Stories from Behind the Dust

Toronto Media Arts Centre | 32 Lisgar Street | Toronto, ON

Sept. 27 – Sept. 30, 2018

Opening Reception: Thurs, 27 Sept 2018
Doors Open: 6:00PM
Welcoming Remarks: 6:30PM

In digital spaces and beyond, women of colour are taking charge of creating new representations and documenting personal histories that resonate across diasporic experiences.

On September 27th, This is Worldtown reveals the full work of seven emerging media-makers taking charge in telling new stories about migration, space, healing and love at our group show, Unbound: Stories from Behind the Dust.

The Behind the Dust series is a portal into a world that is curated and created by Women of Colour, showing the possibilities of imagining beyond convention, and “behind the dust” of inflammatory and one-dimensional portrayals of communities under fire. As a collective, the media-makers are Muslim, Indigenous, Black, Women of Colour conveying in-depth visual stories about their communities, celebrating the fullness of experience in all its layers. What does it mean to visiblize these experiences? How are we learning from the past and creating for the future?

Come and celebrate new forms of storytelling, shifting and changing old and tired narratives at Unbound: Stories from Behind the Dust.


Tickets are free and available via Eventbrite.

We are grateful to the Inspirit Foundation and the Olive Tree Foundation for their support of this event.

This event is open to all.

@thisisworldtown #TIWTtalks #BehindtheDust

Get To Know: The Badass Women Behind Badass Muslimah

In advance of the Young Muslimah Iftar taking place tonight in Toronto, we sat down with Nasma Ahmed and Sarah T., co-founders of Badass Muslimah, a free digital content creation project that launched in Toronto in 2016, providing access skill training through podcasting, filmmaking and web development programs for young Muslim women.

What inspired you to create Badass Muslimah?

Sarah T.: Initially Badass Muslimah was started as a Podcasting and Coding Workshop series. I remember listening to a lot of content and never really hearing any Muslim voices and wanted to change that. The goal was to create a space where young Muslim women could share their stories without having to worry about how it will be perceived. And from there the space has grown. We also wanted to offer an alternative to mainstream Muslim space, which are often not welcoming to everyone.

Nasma Ahmed: Sarah was the genius behind Badass Muslimah, our hope was to create alternative spaces for young Muslim folks to learn and build together.

Can you describe the importance of a collective like this?

ST: There aren’t a lot of public spaces for young women, especially Muslim women to be creative, vulnerable, aloof; basically, themselves and Badass Muslimah strives to fill that void. We want the whole you!

What conversations would you like to start through this organization?

NA: The organization name, Badass Muslimah, starts a lot of conversations. We want to hold space and conversations for folks on the margins of Islam. Muslim women’s bodies, dress, and actions are always under scrutiny and we want to push back. You can be anywhere in your faith and be a part of Badass Muslimah.

What are the best responses you’ve seen to having a collective like this?

NA: It has been interesting to see the community that has grown from the podcasting and web development workshops. For a lot of young Muslim women who were learning in the space, it was their first opportunity to build skills with other young Muslim women. It was super cool to see the friendships that have come out of the workshops and the meet-ups.

What are you looking forward to this ramadan?

ST: Ramadan is period of introspection and productivity. Being able to break fast with family almost daily is a blessing. Also, ramadan is the perfect excuse to reconnect with community over some good food, Alhamdulillah.

Are there things you’re looking out at or inspired by right now?

ST: I remember reading ‘A Very Queer Ramadan’ by Lamya H about the queer Muslim community in New York City; several years ago and wanting a space like that here in Toronto. Although, Badass Muslimah isn’t an exclusively Queer/Trans space, we want to be able to create a space that is free of homophobia/transphobia.

NA: I am personally launching my own organization at the end of this month, so I have been really inspired by the conversations I have had with folks across the country about digital justice. I am currently inspired by the work being done by my dear friend Samah, who has her own production company called Sisterhood Media.

What is upcoming for Badass Muslimah?

NA: We are excited to continue hosting monthly meetups for young Muslimahs, thankfully the summer will create more opportunities for us to be in the outdoors together. We are also working on a short web series with Sisterhood Media and the amazing writer/director Muna Dahir called somewhere in. Our hope is for the web series to launch in the fall.


Sarah T. is a digital media artist based out of Greater Toronto Area. Sarah makes short films and cool digital art sometimes. In the past, she has TAed at OCAD University and co-founded a small digital production studio. Sarah has always believed that Muslimah’s are resilient, witty, passionate, i.e badass; our voices and stories rarely get told from our perspective, badass Muslimah hopes to change that.

Nasma Ahmed is a black muslimah working within the intersections of social justice, technology and policy. She is a technologist and capacity builder based in Toronto, currently she is a Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow. Nasma often works with organizations based in North America focusing on various digital issues from digital security to digital literacy. She is passionate about building accessible and inclusive technology for diverse communities.

Call for Submissions: Behind the Dust

**Deadline: Oct. 29th, 2017 at 11.59pm**

Apply now

Behind the Dust is a new visual series led by emerging Muslimah mediamakers telling their own stories behind the dust of mainstream narratives about their communities.

Why “Behind the Dust”?

There is so much noise that our experiences and perspectives are often shrouded by layers of dust. These are layers that continue to falsify our narratives and further silence our words. The goal of this project is to create a more reflective mediascape that is nuanced and emerges powerfully from the dust of stories that serve to keep us invisible, or pathologize our experiences. Behind the Dust is a chance for racialized and Muslimah mediamakers to take control of the narrative through beautifully rendered visual photography and documentary video.

What is this series?

Over the course of the year, four to eight visual storytellers will be chosen to create work that brings these experiences to the forefront. These can be in response to actions that have happened in your community, or they can be in-depth looks into themes and heroes that’ve inspired you — in any space or community. Be creative, open and honest in your proposal. Tell us why you’ve chosen these topics, and how you will approach them.

What can I expect?

  • As a participant, you will work with the project team who will support the selected visual storytellers in creating photography pieces, videography pieces, and/or written works.
  • You will be compensated $250+ for producing visual content for This is Worldtown.
  • The works created by all participants will be showcased on www.thisisworldtown.com and select works will be exhibited during two events throughout the year.
  • You will have the chance to be matched with a mentor and to partake in a Toronto-based mentorship sessions.
  • Intentionally build a network of Muslim and BIWOC visual storytellers across Canada and be introduced to a host of resources and media companies and practitioners that can support your media arts practice in the future.

Who is eligible?

The priority for this project is woman-identified Muslim media makers* between 18-35 and visual storytellers across Canada, however, we are open to proposals from all Black, Indigenous, Women of Colour mediamakers in Canada. Your project can explore an array of topics and is not limited to only looking at issues of Muslims or Race in the country. What’s important is the depth and creativity that comes out in your proposal.

Check out some of our previous features to get inspired on Love and Intimacy in Kenya; Mother-Daughter relationships in the Sudanese diaspora; or the women of the Colonias on the US-Mexico Border.

What do you mean by “woman-identified”?*

We, at This is Worldtown, recognize that cisgendered women are not the only kind of woman that exists in the world, and we find language limiting of people’s experiences. This project (and all of our calls) is open to submissions from trans women, gender non-conforming folks, and gender diverse people who identify closer to feminine rather than masculine.

The mentorship sessions and events will be based in Toronto, but I live outside of the city. Can I still receive the same support?

While this project is open to submissions from all over Canada, the majority of the physical programming will be held in Toronto. It is a requirement for all applicants who live outside of Toronto to have access to a strong internet connection and can participate through video calls or phone calls. If you are matched with a mentor, you will connect with them virtually. Unfortunately, we do not currently have funds to support travel for this project.

I have work that’s already in development, can I still apply?

Yes! Just share what you’re working on in your proposal.

I am interested in applying for both photography and videography.

For visual storytellers who are interested in both mediums, please submit two different applications highlighting your skills in photography in one application and your skills in videography in another application

What are some key things to think about?

Things you might want to think about in developing your proposal:

  • What are the stories that I wish to tell? Have I seen other versions of them? How is my project or practice expanding new narratives and storylines?
  • What do I need to expand my project?
  • Am I looking for access or entry into media that doesn’t reflect my experience?

Sounds great! How do I apply?

Complete an application by October 29th, 2017 at 11.59pm  through this link.

If you have more questions, please email them to Fonna at info@thisisworldtown.com.


We are grateful to the Inspirit Foundation for their support of this project.