Rouzbeh Akhbari and Felix Kalmenson: Shokouk: A Cosmicomedy in Four Acts

Rouzbeh Akhbari and Felix Kalmenson: Shokouk: A Cosmicomedy in Four Acts

Curated by Kiera Boult

April 2 – 30th, 2024

Vtape, Bachir/Yerex Presentation Space

4th floor, 401 Richmond St. W. suite 452

Tuesday – Saturday 12-5 pm EDT


Vtape is proud to present Rouzbeh Akhbari and Felix Kalmenson’s video installation Shokouk: A Cosmicomedy in Four Acts, as part of the 37th Images Festival: Rehearsing Refusal. Through a collage of people, places, and moments, Shokouk tells a story of cosmic aspirations and their earthly geopolitical consequences: a rocket launch at Baikonur Cosmodrome and its ecological impacts on Kazakhstan; the tale of an archival character sentenced to hard labour for inciting an exodus to the moon, as a rebellion against the Tsar; a conversation between 12th- and 13th-century polymaths and astronomers, performed as a karaoke duet at a fictional Chinese infrastructure company’s launch party; and the lone cosmonaut stuck on MIR space station after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In this installation, our shared attraction to the unknown voids of the cosmos collides with the imperialism and violence of space infrastructure.


Rouzbeh Akhbari and Felix Kalmenson, working under the name Pejvak, form an ongoing collaboration. Their films have screened at numerous international film festivals, including São Paulo International Film Festival, Doclisboa, Sharjah Film Platform, Kasseler Dokfest, Arkipel Jakarta International Documentary Experimental Film Festival, and Media City Film Festival. They have won awards, including the Prix George at Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur in 2020. Their work has been exhibited at museums and galleries internationally, including Villa Arson (France), Van Abbemuseum (Netherlands), MAC VAL (France), M HKA (Belgium), Z33 (Belgium), and Si Shang Art Museum (Beijing). They were long-listed for the prestigious Sobey Art Award in 2023.

image credit: Shokouk: A Cosmicomedy in Four Acts, Rouzbeh Akhbari and Felix Kalmenson (2023)

Co-presented with Images Festival