EXHIBITIONS: FROM FIRE

9 Dec 2023 - 3 Mar 2024 | 10.00am - 5.00pm

9 December 2023 – 3 March 2024

Launch: 16 December 2023

Marsden Gallery, Free Entry


This exhibition by Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre brings together the artistic practices of NC Qin and Ali Tahayori. Together in ‘FROM FIRE’ they explore how challenging it can be to forge your own identity and feel a sense of belonging in Australia. Whether ingrained from birth, or passed down via intergeneration memory, rigid cultural values and laws clash with their way of life in Australia and their sense of self. Like many who have migrated or been raised within cultural systems worlds away from where they live, work and love, questions about who they are, and where they belong persist.

The experience of enduring the fire and observing your identity reflect, refract, shatter and somehow re-form stronger than ever all in one motion, again and again, is conveyed via the symbolic power of glass, performance, mirrors, language and light in this intimate exhibition.

‘FROM FIRE’ features 2 significant artworks. Glass Armour (Performance), a never-before-seen 2-channel performance film by Qin and OUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE, a stunning mirror and light installation by Tahayori. The combination of the works ultimately tell a compelling narrative about the courage and perseverance that it takes to fight for belonging and self-authenticity in a disorientating and sometimes hostile world.

NC Qin is an artist and curator who grew up in the 90s in Sydney, Australia. She is first generation Australian born Chinese (ABC). She chose the path of the artist, despite family pressure not to. She has studied visual arts across both Australia, China and Chicago. Qin has become known for working with cast glass, which is an incredibly time consuming and labour-intensive process. She has exhibited locally and internationally and has works in several nation and international collections. Qin is represented by Art Atrium, Sydney.

Her never-before-seen double screen film work Glass Armour (Performance), is the impressive capstone on a project that has been evolving for many years, revolving around the painstaking process of creating armour from Chinese history out of glass. The armour is overflowing with Chinese history, symbolism, narrative and cultural values that have special significance to Nancy due their incompatibility with herself and her life that she has built as painstakingly as the armour itself. In this final performance, the artist is taken to the point of muscular failure, which not only hasn't been done before in any previous version of the work but is also a fitting end point for this project.

Ali Tahayori was born in Shiraz, Iran. Tahayori currently lives and works in Sydney, Australia. Raised in the oppressively homophobic climate of 1980s Iran, Tahayori assumed the identity of an outsider, further compounded by his migration to Australia in 2007. Tahayori has an interdisciplinary practice that ranges from conceptual photography to the moving image, mirror works and installation. He holds a Doctorate in Medicine and MFA in Photomedia from National Art School. Tahayori has exhibited locally and internationally and has been a finalist and winner of several local and International art prizes. Tahayori is represented by THIS IS NO FANTASY, Melbourne.

OUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE is made from many tiny pieces of mirror. In Iran pieces of mirror like this have been traditionally used to elaborately decorate the interior of mosques and holy places in a mosaic style. In Tahayori’s work the mirror, combined with poetic language (Farsi and English) and light, becomes the medium to tell Tahayori’s personal story. OUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE speaks to how hard it is to grasp a sense of home and belonging when it is always shifting in out of legibility and oscillating between safe and dangerous.

Nancy Quin and Glass Armour

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