Art is vital in uncertain times, says Winnipeg artist Azka Ahmed

Winnipeg spoken word poet Azka Ahmed is the subject of a new short film about their work, as part of Our Culture, Our Art, a four-part video series profiling South Asian artists in Manitoba.

Ahmed profiled as part of Our Culture, Our Art, a new video series profiling South Asian artists in Manitoba

Make space for all art and artists

1 year ago
Duration 3:21
Winnipeg artist Azka says art important in unsettled times. Video Credit: Mandeep Sodhi, Sodhi Creative Films

Art is important not just right now, but always, says interdisciplinary artist Azka Ahmed. 

So if you are just dabbling in your own practice privately, or don't think there is a space for you or your art publicly, think again, says the Winnipeg artist.

"The world needs art. There is a space for you … and you might just change someone's life," said Ahmed. 

The Winnipeg spoken word poet, who uses they/them pronouns, is the subject of a new short film about their work, which you can watch above.

The four-minute film about Ahmed is the work of local filmmmaker Mandeep Sodhi and delves into the inspiration and motivation behind their art. 

While poetry, painting and drawing were their focus, Ahmed also shifted to film and video during the pandemic.

Their work now also focuses on mental health, self-care, vulnerability and compassion, they said. It's a message they hope others will tune into during these unsettled times. 

"What are you doing to take care of yourself?" Ahmed asks in the film. "Have they spent some time inside their mind lately?"

Our Culture, Our Art is a four-part video series profiling South Asian artists in Manitoba. (CBC)

The film about Ahmed is part of Our Culture, Our Art — a four-part video series by Sodhi profiling South Asian artists in Manitoba, created for CBC Manitoba's Creator Network.

The three other video profiles will be released in the coming days:

  • Sunday, Jan. 30: Seema Goel explains how one hitchhiker and a big fib paved the road to a 26-year career as an artist.
  • Thursday, Feb. 3: Gurpreet Sehra on how the outdated caste system informs her work.
  • Sunday, Feb. 6: Sisters Saira and Nilufer Rahman explain how they honour their late father's storytelling traditions.

The four-part series was produced in conjunction with CBC Manitoba's pop-up remote newsroom bureau and community space in Garden City Shopping Centre in late 2021.

Meet the filmmaker

Screenwriter, cinematographer and director Mandeep Sodhi has created four short films for CBC Manitoba's Creator Network that profile South Asian artists. (Submitted by Mandeep Sodhi)

Mandeep Sodhi is a screenwriter, cinematographer and director, who has been based in Winnipeg since 2011. He has more than 13 years of experience in the film industry in India, the United States and Canada.

He has won two national awards in India for his docudramas, and his music videos have been nominated for national and international Music Awards in India, Asia and Sierra Leone. 

In 2015, Mandeep won the ACTRA Manitoba Golden Boy award for most outstanding member initiated project for his short film The Perfect Little Plan.

He has written and directed for television and has had his works broadcast on Bell MTS, Super Channel and various on-demand platforms. His film company is Sodhi Creative Films.