Familiar Stranger

SYDNEY. 7 APRIL – 21 MAY 2017.

Artists: Shumon Ahmed, Chun Yin Rainbow Chan, Bashir Makhoul, Veer Munshi, Shireen Taweel and Curtis Taylor.

The reconciliation between memory and reality plagues the act of returning. There is no resolution between the two. Memories are etched into the psyche hinged on topographical monuments, whispered words and subconscious everyday patterns while reality erases such symbology through the passing of time. Familiar Stranger examines this third, non-existent space that plagues the returnee as they seek to retrace their memories in places that have been rebuilt or reinscribed. With familiarity reduced to invisible archaeological sites the returnee searches for recognition and legitimacy in a now unacquainted geography.

The exhibiting artists examine the negation and erasure of familiarity by presenting place as a space defined by uncertainty. There is a continue shift between points of view that begets the collapse of spatial certainty and becomes defined by its own instability. For the migrant the idea of returning becomes an implicit part of their identity; the constant oscillation between the possibility and impossibility of return a daily taunt. In Familiar Stranger the moment of return is the focal point where, for some, it is a wistful hope and for others a violent decimation of expectancy. Resisting melodrama, the artists turn to the familial archive and the personal memorial to bring form to the constant internal struggle between what is and what was.



Exhibition Opening:
6.00pm – 8.00pm Thursday 6 April
Exhibition to be opened by Brendan O’Flynn, Human Rights Watch.
Opening performance from Chun Yin Rainbow Chan from 7PM – 7.30PM
RSVP here.

Panel Discussion:
2.00pm – 3.00pm Saturday 8 April
Join Familiar Stranger artists Chun Yin Rainbow Chan and Shireen Taweel, Fairfield Parents’ Cafe team leader Haitham Jaju and 4A Director Mikala Tai for a discussion about the realities and experiences of returning from migrant, refugee and artistic perspectives. RSVP here.

Chun Yin Rainbow Chan Performances:
Visit 4A at the following times to see Chun Yin Rainbow Chan perform as part of her Familiar Stranger work:
11.30am Saturday 22 April
2.00pm Saturday 29 April

Cantonese Language Classes:
As part of the public program for Familiar Stranger, the public are invited to join us for weekly Cantonese language classes on Thursday nights for the duration of the exhibition. With a curriculum curated by Chun Yin Rainbow Chan, join us for these one-hour classes to either refresh or learn new language skills and gain a further insight into Chan’s work. Find out more here – bookings open soon!


About the artists:

Bashir Makhoul (b. 1963, Galilee, Palestine, lives and works in Birmingham, United Kingdom) is a Palestinian artist born in Galilee in 1963. He has been based in the United Kingdom for the past 22 years. During this time he has produced a body of work, based on repeated motifs, which can be characterized by their power of aesthetic seduction. Once drawn into the work however, viewers find themselves engaged with something far more complicated than a beautiful pattern. Economics, nationalism, war and torture are frequently woven into the layers of Makhoul’s work and often the more explicit the material, the more seductive the surface.

Makhoul completed his PhD in 1995 at Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK. He has exhibited his work widely in Britain and internationally, including the Hayward Gallery, London, Tate Liverpool, Harris Museum, Preston, Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, the Liverpool Biennial, Jordan National Museum, NCA Gallery Lahore Pakistan, the Florence Biennial, Haus am Lutzowplatz Berlin, UTS Gallery, Sydney, Australia, Elga Wimmer Gallery, New York, Changshu Art Museum, Suzhou Art Museum, Shenzhen Art Museum in China, 798 Yang Gallery Beijing and many others. In 2013, he  presented his work at the Venice Biennial in Italy and Aichi Biennial in Japan. He will show at the Asian Triennial in Manchester UK in 2014.

Curtis Taylor (b. Broome, Western Australia, Australia, lives and works in Perth, Australia) is a filmmaker, screen artist, actor and a young Martu leader. Growing up in remote Martu desert communities and in the city, Curtis has both traditional Martu knowledge and a non-Aboriginal education. After finishing school in 2008 Curtis worked as Community Coordinator and Youth Development Officer at Martu Media (a division of Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa), where he also spent 18 months working on the major Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route project as a filmmaker and youth ambassador. Curtis was the recipient of the 2011 Western Australian Youth Art Award and Wesfarmers Youth Scholarship. His screen work including the acclaimed short film ‘Mamu’ has been shown in international film festivals from Brazil to Nepal. Curtis has almost completed his film and media studies at Murdoch University. He was the Director’s Attachment and is the Narrator of ‘Collisions’.

Chun Yin Rainbow Chan ( b. 1990, Hong Kong, lives and works in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia) is a multidisciplinary artist who works across sound, performance and installation. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Sydney, she is interested in duality, diaspora and the effects of globalisation on modern Chinese society. Chan often evokes traditional Chinese methods or styles and represents them in uncanny ways. Her research engages with the authentic and the copy, exploring sites of exchange and desire which complicate Western notions of originality and “appropriate” consumption.

Central to Chan’s work is the circulation of knock-off objects, sounds and images in global media. Her work positions the fake as a complex sign that shapes new myths, values and contemporary commodity production. Sustained by a parasitic relationship to the original, the counterfeit interacts with the world in unpredictable ways. Chan investigates how these mimetic symbols, such as bootlegs or fake luxury goods, problematise the socially-regulated impulse of consumerist desire.

Tying together her works across installation and pop music is the relationship between nostalgia, migration and identity. Since winning FBi Radio’s Northern Lights Competition in 2011, Chan has been building a reputation as one of the most innovative artists in Australia with her highly personal, experimental pop music. She recently released her debut album Spacings (Silo Arts & Records) which was met with critical acclaim, handpicked as the feature album on FBi Radio, Radio Adelaide, RTRFM and scoring 4 stars from Rolling Stone. Under her techno project, Chunyin, Chan released Code Switch EP on UK label, Off Out, in September.

Chan has performed extensively with notable performances at the Sydney Opera House, Museum of Contemporary Art, Gallery of Modern Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales and Iceland Airwaves Festival. She has exhibited works at Firstdraft Gallery, Liquid Architecture and Squiggle Space. In October 2016, she was invited by 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art to participate in the inaugural Longli International New Media Arts Festival in Guizhou Province, China. Chan has collaborated with choreographer Ivey Wawn for Out of The Studio, presented by DirtyFeet, and soundtracked ABC web-series The Glass Bedroom, directed by Kate Blackmore.

Shumon Ahmed  (b. 1977, Bangladesh, lives and works in Dhaka, Bangladesh) is a Dhaka-based poet and an artist who explores the fusion between video, photography, Sound, text and performance, creating stories that while seemingly contradictory, are private yet collective. His work with the camera and film has also been likened to abstract painting due to his experimental processing techniques with unpredictable results that yield the melancholic.

Ahmed studied photography at the South Asian Media Academy, Dhaka, Bangladesh (2006- 2009) & at The Danish school of Media and Journalism, Arhus, Denmark (2008).

His work has been previously exhibited in various galleries, festivals and screenings around the world including the 2014 Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India, Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh (2012, 2014, 2016), Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2010), Fotomuseum, Winterthur, Switzerland (2010), Art science museum, Singapore (2016), Krinzinger Projekete, Austria (2016) and a recent solo exhibition at Project88, Mumbai, India (2015).

In April, Shumon will take part in Familiar Stranger, a group exhibition at 4A Centre for Contemporary Art, Sydney.

Veer Munshi (b. 1955, Kashmir, India, lives and works in Dehli, India), a Kashmiri artist who now lives in Delhi has consistently used his art to reflect his anguish at the situation in his home state, his pain and struggle spilling over onto his canvass. Making a human rights statement rather than a political one, he has constantly sought to highlight the turmoil that comes  with his separation from his heritage, and to highlight the increasingly the narrow space that exists for culture and art in his state. He is also convinced that art. Because of its universal nature, can play a significant role in the resolution of the Kashmir situation. Unlike other contemporary artists, though, viewing pleasure is no motivator for veer in the creation of his art,rather it is about sharing a personally-felt experience as a ‘refugee’. His paintings and installations reflect a Kashmir that is in the context of the Kashmir.

Shireen Taweel (b. 1990, Bankstown, New South Wales, Australia, lives and works in Sydney, Australia) is currently practicing at the Parramatta Artist Studios in Sydney.  Much of Taweel’s practice is informed by her identity connected to the Middle East as her heritage further inspires her creative exploration through the refined processes in metallurgy. The nature of the relationship of her forms sit in a space between jewellery and sculpture, where her techniques of making takes the traditional art of copper-smithing into a contemporary context.

The works partake in a cross-cultural discourse, while the sense of the arcane and shifted structures opens dialogue between shared histories and relations between communities of fluid identities.

Taweel is a current Kickstart Helix Next Wave participant. Her recent solo shows include fractured//fluid terrains at SEVENTH Gallery, Melbourne (2017), translated roots at Verge Gallery, Sydney (2017) tomorrow, InshAllah at 55 Sydenham RD Marrickville, Sydney (2016) rhythms of the ritualistic at Gaffa Gallery, Sydney (2016) and promised denial at 146 ArtSpace, Hobart (2016).  Taweel is also a nominee of The Jameel Art Prize (2018) at Victoria and Albert Museum in London.