Image credit: Lauren Crazybull, I’ve Always been away. Detail, Oil on Canvas, 2023. Courtesy the Artist.

Autofictional: MFA Graduating Exhibition & Festival

Torien Cafferata
Alexandra Caprara
Kittie Cooper
Lauren Crazybull
Lauraine Mak
Mena El Shazly
Cody Tolmie
Douglas Watt
Shervin Zarkalam

September 6 – September 23, 2023
Audain Gallery & SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts


How we exist in the world
Depends on how we describe it.
Have I always been in the world?
No, I’ve been autumn in the middle of August.
I’ve been the wind as well as the tamarack tree
Seconds after its final needles drop.
Don’t tell anyone, but I’m happiest
When my life feels like an autofiction. […]

We are all subjects of the twentieth century,
I say to a man I just met on the internet.
It sounds like a riddle for which the answer is the body.
Every winter, I take pictures of the snow
Because the snow reminds me
of my impermanence. Mostly, I want to be undone
Without being ruined. An NDN truth?
The present is as beautiful as it is brutal.

—    Billy-Ray Belcourt


The MFA Graduating Exhibition and Festival Autofictional is the culmination of creative practice and artistic research by students graduating from the Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts Program in the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University. Collectively, the works by artists Torien Cafferata, Alexandra Caprara, Kittie Cooper, Lauren Crazybull, Lauraine Mak, Mena El Shazly, Cody Tolmie, Douglas Watt, Shervin Zarkalam reflect both the allure and exigencies of the social, political, and environmental urgencies concurrent to their years of study.

The artists’ projects are embedded with an acute awareness of the experience of transiting these precarious times, including a probing of the past and inherited histories: the implications of systemic settler colonial violence towards Indigenous peoples, survival strategies of the pandemic denouement, the global rise of authoritarian regimes and fundamentalist lawmaking, and protests for human rights necessary within our own neighbourhoods, but also in those of our global family. With home communities from S’ólh téméxw to Káínai/Dené territories, and from Cairo to Tehran, these artists recognize that the opportunity to gather for the exchange of ideas, sharing of their studio practices, and reciprocity of both giving and taking through their learning processes, is not to be taken for granted.

Through sound art, performance, painting, installation and theatre production—amongst other practices—this program of artworks and events invites close study: of liminal surfaces, of representative scales of loss and longing, and of qualities of exceptionalism when emphasized by an invitation to inquiry.

The artists in this exhibition and festival recognize that they are uninvited guests on the unceded territories of the Skwxwú7mesh, xʷməθkwəy̓əm, and Səl̓ílwətaɬ Peoples. Presented by the School for the Contemporary Arts at SFU in partnership with SFU Galleries. The MFA graduating cohort is honoured to acknowledge Billy-Ray Belcourt’s poem Autofiction, which appears here with permission from the author.


Curated by Kristy Trinier


Torien Cafferata (they/he) is a neuroqueer interdisciplinary artist from Treaty 4 and Treaty 6 territory where they learned to be a performer, playwright, director, dramaturge, educator, and researcher. As co-Artistic Director of It’s Not A Box Theatre alongside designer Amberlin Hsu, they have toured work to the Prague Quadrennial, SummerWorks, and across Fringe Festivals. They play and research with a host of forms: devised performance creation, immersive scenography, and lo-fi game design, often exploring neurodivergence, gender, found spaces, lost futures, and new futures. For his Interdisciplinary Arts MFA at Simon Fraser University, Torien has been studying intersections between madness, interpassivity, ludology, hauntology, and gamespace through the use of interactive performance and analogue mixed reality.

Alexandra Caprara  is a queer interdisciplinary artist from Tkaranto, Ontario whose practice is grounded in performance making and design, with a focus on devised processes, movement, interactivity, and design lead creation. Her work often centers themes of femininity, autonomy, somatics, and queer ecology, and believes in making and producing work that center queer joy. She has worked internationally as a director, performer, and designer for lighting and video projection, and has presented her work across Canada. Her research includes examining the ways emergent technologies can become a harmonious part of a creation process, and how the digital can embrace the organic in both form and content.

Kittie Cooper is a sound and intermedia artist, performer, and educator based in Vancouver, BC. She makes work that explores the spectrum between silliness and seriousness, and in particular where those two qualities overlap with spookiness. Much of Cooper’s work deals with the messy insides of humans, electronics, and other everyday things. Kittie holds a BM from Northwestern University in music education and guitar performance, and an MEd in teaching students with visual impairments from George Mason University. They also like ghost stories, chili, and cats. You can find more information about Cooper and their work at

Lauren Crazybull is a Niitsítapi, Dené painter living and working on the unceded territories of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam people. In her work, Crazybull interrogates how Indigenous identities have been historically represented and understood through visual culture. Working primarily in portraiture, a long-standing genre that is often embedded with an imbalance of power between the artist/viewer and sitter, Crazybull seeks to examine the relationship between herself as an artist and the individuals she paints. Through this ongoing work, Lauren uses her work as a way to assert her own humanity, and advocate, in diverse and subtle ways, for the innate intellectual, spiritual, creative and political fortitude of Indigenous peoples.

Lauraine Mak is a Canadian artist living and working between Düsseldorf, Germany and Vancouver. She graduated from Emily Carr University in 2013 and has since been enrolled at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, Germany as a guest studying with artist Rita McBride. Her work is informed by philosophical investigations of language and phenomenology, and she works primarily within the disciplines of video art and conceptual painting. 

Mena El Shazly’s work is grounded in time-based media. Her practice is concerned with light-sensitive surfaces, entropy, archival bodies and sites of memory. She studied performing and visual arts at the American University in Cairo, and was a fellow of the Home Workspace Program at Ashkal Alwan, Beirut. Gaining global attention through her media productions and frequent collaborations, her work has been showcased widely at venues including Contemporary Image Collective (Cairo), Vivo Media Arts (Vancouver) and House of The World Cultures (Berlin). She is the Artistic Director of the Cairo Video Festival organized by Medrar for Contemporary Art.

Cody Tolmie is an Interdisciplinary Xwelmexw (Sq’éwlets) artist from their traditional territory of S’ólh téméxw who currently lives on the unceded territories of of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. Cody grew up off-reserve in Kekinow family housing in Ts'elxwéyeqw (Chilliwack) off his family’s reservation of Sq’ewlets.  Cody’s practice investigates places of historical significance and their role within Xwelmexw history in S’ólh Téméxw with their contemporary context in the Fraser Valley.

Douglas Watt is an artist living and working in Vancouver's Davie Village on the unceded territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. He received a BA in Art History from Carleton University, and studied Criticism & Curatorial Practice at OCAD University in Toronto. Recent solo exhibitions include Stunning Evidence at Unit 17 in Vancouver, and Deep End Epiphany at Downs & Ross in New York City. Group exhibitions include Some say the soul is made of wind at Downs & Ross, Spirit Off at Yaby in Madrid, and Infinity Ball with Marisa Kriangwiwat Holmes at Unit 17 in Vancouver.

Shervin Zarkalam is an Iranian interdisciplinary artist, performer, deviser, director, and dramaturg originally from Tehran, now based in Vancouver. He studied Stage Design at the University of Tehran and later honed his craft through intensive underground contemporary dance and choreography workshops. Zarkalam's performance practice and dramaturgy are deeply influenced by the avant-garde European traditions of contemporary dance and postdramatic theater, specifically drawing from Joao Fiadeiro's method for ‘Real-Time Composition’. In his performances, he expertly employs a combination of direct and indirect references from art history to pop culture, interweaving media with contemporary twists and intertextual compositions.



OPENING: Autofictional: MFA Graduating Exhibition and Festival
WED, SEP 6 / 6 – 8PM
Audain Gallery


PERFORMANCE: Torien Cafferata: The Playbox
SAT, SEP 9 / 3:30PM
SAT, SEP 9 / 8:30PM
Room 4365 (SCA Sound Stage) – SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
For tickets click here


PERFORMANCE: Alexandra Caprara: Ultra Violets
THU, SEP 7 / 8PM
SAT, SEP 9 / 7PM
STUDIO D – SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
For tickets click here


PERFORMANCE: Kittie Cooper: The Lightest Things Float To The Top
THU, SEP 7 / 7PM
FRI, SEP 8 / 7PM
Room 4365 (SCA Sound Stage) – SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
For tickets click here


SCREENING: Mena El Shazly: Hyperopia
FRI, SEP 15 / 7PM
Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema – SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts


PERFORMANCE: Shervin Zarkalam: Soft Machines: Kettle Logic and the Gale Maze
FRI, SEP 8 / 8PM
SAT, SEP 9 / 3PM
Studio T – SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
For tickets click here