Farah Al Qasimi

Star Machine


Flickering between darker moments of isolation and disconnection, and idyllic expressions of care, community and faith, the works in Star Machine offer an intimate inquiry into how spaces and subjectivities inflect and influence each other.

For her first solo exhibition in Australia, Al Qasimi presents Star Machine, an installation of photography and video featuring key works from 2017 to 2021.

Based between Brooklyn and Abu Dhabi, Al Qasimi understands the camera as a relational tool. Her work explores the social and political implications of our present technological condition by carefully attending to social media’s emotionality, and its reconfiguration of public and private space.

The exhibition is titled after Al Qasimi’s photograph Star Machine (2021), a self-portrait in which the artist is depicted lying on a sofa in a lounge room dramatically enveloped in the projected stars of the star machine. Having used this machine to transcend the monotony of her surroundings after two weeks of quarantine, Star Machine shows the ways in which realities are layered and imagined, and how photography is not simply about documenting and critiquing the world but is an increasingly important part of how we shape composite worlds within worlds.

Al Qasimi’s approach is both critical and reparative. Through a mixture of close-ups, mid-shots, and long-shots, that at times almost completely dissolve the subject, Al Qasimi uses the image to map the traces of affect that simultaneously hold, pierce and punctuate our daily lives. In doing so, she reveals how we employ images to seek out sensations of closeness when we are physically separated from someone; that spiritual experience must not always be threatened by consumption; how Neoliberalism’s individualisation of well-being need not run rampant; and intuitively communicates how images can be coping strategies, and so too might all of our big and small acts of self-creation and transcendence. 

This exhibition is curated by Rachel Ciesla, Simon Lee Foundation Lead Creative at AGWA.



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Farah Al Qasimi