Leila Zelli

Born in Teheran (Iran). Lives and works in Montreal (Quebec).


Leila Zelli is completing her MFA in Arts visuels et médiatiques at UQAM. Having lived through the war and imposed religion as a child in Iran, she attempts to question the connection between war and religion. With in situ digital installations, she creates visual and sound experiences that provoke reflection on the state of the world.


Zelli uses existent media images and videos found on the Internet to create visual and sound experiences that provoke reflection about the promises of religion and its actual impact on humanity. The paradox of life in countries at war particularly interests her. The people there oscillate between the immense bleakness that terror creates and small moments of joy or hope, between the violent acts of destruction and the will to survive, to live. Any interpretation of images depends on our point of view, on our experience in life, on our beliefs, our desire to see and even on our wish not to know about what is happening.

The artist would like to reduce the distance between cultures and break down boundaries. Her intention is to have us look at the world without prejudices, and to increase our empathy and understanding towards the other.


Zelli’s intent is to create a dialogue between fixed and moving images illustrating times in the life of children, living during a war. From small moments of shared pleasure, such as having fun in the water and playing soccer with friends, to the children’s reality that tells quite another story. Each image is decontextualized so that we never know which period it comes from.

The in situ installation should give the viewer the impression of being in a “playground,” the real one of children’s games and of the political play of the image. The artist’s aim is to question our reaction in front of what we are given to see. This is why she questions the relationship between the visible and the invisible, the field of vision and the off-camera, the context of the image and our mental state stemming from beliefs and prejudices.

Zelli works


Éclipse, 2015, animation video – extract , Courtesy of the artist