2013. Bunbury Regional Art Gallery WA
2011. Fremantle Arts Centre
Amongst the breadth of objects held in the City of Fremantle Art Collection are two 19th Century Afghan Prayer Rugs.
Rarely exhibited since their donation, these richly coloured and exquisitely designed woven textiles appear to have
little relationship with the core strengths or priorities of the collection, and indeed might be considered at first glance to be more relevant to another community or museum setting altogether. Now, that perception has changed. Through the activity of visual artist Olga Cironis, a deeper understanding of the significance of these items can be revealed, for the artist’s process has redefined the status and relevance of the prayer rugs to the City’s Collection and the Western Australian community.
Cironis’ positive response to the ‘aura’ of the rugs; their inherent material presence and the physical evidence of the
rugs’ use in prayer is what initially encouraged Cironis to accept an invitation to participate in the project. Cironis
has subsequently become deeply effected by the apparent unbearable ‘weight’ of the rugs’ political and cultural
significance for the Afghan community following insights into the appalling history of the treatment of Afghan Cameleers of last century and the continued internment of Afghan refugees.
Cironis, who undertook a six month residency at FAC, combined both installation, photography and video work to acknowledge the significant role these artefacts play in the intimate ritual of prayer and their placement within the compelling social history of Australia’s Afghan Cameleers. Cironis’ residency was supported by the Short Term Artist in Residence program of the Department of Culture and the Arts.
The Fajr prayer is the first of the five daily prayers recited by practising muslims.
"Fajr, like dawn, is the beginning of a day’s journey filled with many stories about the Afghan people who have settled in Australia. It is an exhibition based on research, conversations, story telling, listening, feeling and remembering. Through the act of weaving, collecting, photography and film I hope to express what Milan Kundera called in his novel 'The Unbearable Lightness Of Being'. Fajr is my interpretation of what it means to live life marked by personal and collective history..."
Olga Cironis, 2011