vivonne thwaites





amira.h. Strawberry Kisses, digital photo taken during performance, 2010


The Bridegroom at the River Torrens (part of 'The One series'), 2011
digital photograph
Photographer: Dominic Guerrera



I have found The One – performance 25 March 2011

amira.h.'s performance, The One, is an act of rebellion. Raised as a Muslim, much of amira.h.'s adolescence was spent thinking about, talking about, and fighting about the issue of marriage. Now, at age twenty-seven, these same issues are still making their presence felt in her life-the contradictory life of an unmarried queer Muslim visual artist. Intrigued with instruction and ritual, as well as testing the limits of the body and how much it can endure, amira.h. presents herself, alone, as both bride and groom performing one of the rituals of marriage. Exorcising a tradition that will not take place in her life, the solitary figure portrays a sense of mourning, pathos and loneliness, with the end result being strangely celebratory. amira.h. invites the viewer to consider and question their own assumptions and expectations concerning gender, sexuality and power whilst she stands on the dichotomous altar of her identity. Come along and celebrate The One.

amira’s work questions the roles of young women in the Muslim/domestic sphere and (expectations placed on them); fat/queer/feminist politics and rituals (in marriage and religion) and transgression of these/contradiction/failure.

amira.h - cv

amira.h. is an emerging artist based in Adelaide, and recently completed her Bachelor of Visual Arts (with First Class Honours) at the South Australian School of Art in 2008. She has exhibited in numerous spaces including HOLY at Firstdraft Gallery, Sydney, Three Rituals at The Project Space, Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia, and FELTspace. Her work is mainly performance-based, although she also incorporates sculptural objects, installation, photography and video into her practice. As a female of Muslim heritage who is influenced by Western and Christian ideals, amira.h.'s ritualistic performances attempt to make sense of the many contradictions, transgressions and failures that she feels she embodies. The unconventional form of her work serves to not only push the limits of her own body and faith, but also tests the level to which her audience is prepared to watch and endure with her. Much of amira.h.'s early work was concerned with the ritual of marriage and she has recently returned to this theme in later work, which continues to explore the binaries of joy and sorrow, celebration and mourning, and what lies in between.

2008 Bachelor of Visual Arts Honours (First Class), South Australian School of Art, University of South Australia
2004-2007 Bachelor of Visual Arts, South Australian School of Art, University of South Australia
2011 The One, Artroom5, Henley Beach (upcoming in March)
  Format Moving Image, Format Space, Adelaide (upcoming in February)
2010 Feel for FELTspace, FELTspace, Adelaide
  Lets Eat The Dead 2: Death Feast, Brown Sugar Gallery, Adelaide
  SALA Moving Image Project, Queens Theatre, Adelaide
  HOLY, Firstdraft Gallery, Sydney
2009 Let’s Eat The Dead, Brown Sugar Gallery, Adelaide
  SALA Moving Image, SALA Festival, Adelaide
  Big!, Queens Theatre, Adelaide
  Junk Bonds, Format Festival, Adelaide
  Helpmann Academy Graduate Exhibition, Drill Hall, Adelaide
  First #2, Liverpool Street Gallery, Adelaide
  Ya Leil, The Factory Theatre, Marrickville, Sydney
  Performance Review Unit: Night #1, FELTspace, Adelaide
2008 Freefall: SASA Graduate Exhibition, SASA Gallery, Adelaide
  Art West, The Ed Castle Hotel & Bull and Bear Hotel, Adelaide
  Three Rituals, The Project Space, Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia, Parkside
  Carnivale: Helpmann Academy exhibition, Higher Ground, Adelaide
  Moving Image Gallery, Queens Theatre & Mercury Cinema, SALA Festival, Adelaide
  Stelarc Masterclass Presentations, Matthew Flinders Theatre, Flinders University
  Yoko Faux Mo, old Stormy Summers’ building, Adelaide
  Rush!, Hotel Richmond, Adelaide
2007 evoLLove, Urtext Studios, Feast Festival, Adelaide
  Unhomely, Thursdays at Twenty-One, Magill
  The Constance Gordon-Johnson Prize for Sculpture and Installation, SASA Gallery, Adelaide
  Walking the Trail: The Parks Helix Project, Parks Community Centre, Angle Park
  Meet & Greet, Downtown Art Space, Adelaide
  Refill II, Aroma Café, City West, Adelaide
  Impending Doom for the HMS Black Sun, Spank! Studio Gallery, Hindmarsh
2006 Prelude: SASA Graduate Exhibition, SASA Gallery, Adelaide
  Didactic, FAD Gallery, SALA Festival, Adelaide
  Bye Bye Baby, Bye Bye, South Australian School of Art, Adelaide
  Rock, Paper, Scissors, South Australian School of Art, Adelaide
2005 Unfinished Performance in Three Parts, The Lounge Gallery, SASA, Adelaide
2009 Arts SA Last Minute Presentation, Independent Makers & Presenters Grant
  Helpmann Academy Project Grant
2008 South Australian Youth Arts Board Quick Response Grant
2005-8 Chancellor’s Letters of Commendation, University of South Australia
2011 ‘FELTspace Gold’, artist profile in publication (upcoming)
2010 ‘Vitamin: The Redux’, Guest artist: insert art
  ‘The critical ambivalence of amira.h.’, catalogue essay by Hannah Starke for HOLY, Firstdraft Gallery, Sydney
2009 ‘milk’, 15 x 15 public lecture series, Kaurna building, South Australian School of Art
  ‘AMIRA H’, interview by Belinda Pappalardo, The Adelaide Fix, Issue 5, 6-9 March, p. 28
  ‘Barbie explains: Lesbianisms’, artist’s pages, W.E.S.T. zine, Issue 2, pp. 24-32
  ‘The Lovers: Or, What Could Have Been’, article, Conquistadora zine, Issue 2, Summer, pp. 14-18
2008 ‘As Serious As Your Life: The Body Art of amira.h.’, catalogue essay by Jon Dale for Three Rituals, The Project Space, Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia
  Stelarc masterclass, Flinders University, 5th-9th May
  ‘Yoko Faux Mo’, interview by Lenin Simos, dB magazine, Issue 438, 16-29 April, p. 11
  Arts Breakfast, interview on Radio Adelaide with Cath Kenneally, 12th April
2007 ‘Thursdays at Twenty-One’, article by Mel Curtis in Skanky Jane’s Bargain Box, 3rd December
  ‘Where Is My Happy Fucking Ending?’, article, Conquistadora zine, Issue 1, Spring, pp. 12-17
  Excitement Machine, Edition 5, artist’s pages, pp. 7 & 9
  ‘I Loved You Before You Were Cool: Romi Graham interviews amira.h.’, Vitamin, Episode 12, March/April, pp. 14-15
  ‘validation by survey’, artist’s page, Vitamin, Episode 11, Nov/Dec/Jan, p. 19
  Awarded position of Downtown Art Space student representative
2005 ‘Unfinished Performance in Three Parts’, review by Sera Waters, dB Magazine, edition 370, 2-15 November 2005, p. 37
  Participated in Tatsuo Miyajima’s Counter Voice in Milk (Adelaide Version), CACSA
  “amira.h. is always dispersed throughout the performance space; a fleshy presence splintered into photos and intentions which disrupt the linear temporality of her piece and remind us that her performed body is no guarantee of authenticity. Her work asks us to observe the body’s passivity to ritualised actions and its nature as a marked and re-marked canvas. This is the socially subjected and disciplined body. […].” Hannah Starke, ‘The critical ambivalence of amira.h.’, catalogue essay for HOLY, Firstdraft Gallery, Sydney, March 2010
  “amira.h.’s ‘Unfinished Performance in Three Parts’ was not a trilogy of performances from this artist, but rather a series of three tasks designed by the artist for the audience (soon to be participants) to undertake. … One would expect that cutting up a wedding dress, playing and making with its fabric and then distributing it elsewhere (as per the individual instructions) could be regarded as not the done thing. As with many tasks of a rebellious nature, the act of participating was liberating, yet slightly disconcerting. [For] amira.h., it seemed that this destruction was like the exorcising of a tradition that wouldn’t take place. Dressed in a black dress and gloves- a feeling of wedding celebration and love met with mourning and loss.” Sera Waters, dB Magazine, edition 370, 2-15 November 2005, p.3


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