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Stay Climbing

Aida Azin

Windows Commission
Presented by Arts House

28 Oct 2021 – 4 Feb 2022
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Arts House
North Melbourne Town Hall
521 Queensberry St,
North Melbourne

Wheelchair Accessible

Aida Azin deploys evocative dream-state symbols to decode the experiences of a third-culture kid.


The paintings in Stay Climbing tell several fragmented stories. Together, they create a material backdrop for contradictory feelings: yearning for an identity of authenticity, and the process of dealing with shame.

Developed from encoded symbols from her dream-state, Aida uses her paintings to describe her third-culture kid experience of understanding where her responsibilities might lie.

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About Aida Azin

Aida Azin is an artist/community organiser based in Naarm/Melbourne. Born to Iranian/Filipina parents and raised in an Australian context, Aida’s life experiences are melded with depictions of liminality and an attempt to reconcile losses that all diasporic bodies contend with. Aida has exhibited her paintings and installations across Australia and in the Philippines.
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Artistic Credits

Paintings by Aida Azin
Design adaptation by Raft Studio
Photos by Bryony Jackson
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Artist Statement

Stay Climbing
2016-2020
Text by Aida Azin

In order of display

1. In Postcolonial pleasantries - I bathe in my own blood. It felt like I was bashing over my own head with a stone-like penis. This was the result of my exhaustion. I’d become sick of overhearing racist conversations while getting side-eyed by perverts at the sauna. The racism in Adelaide was omnipresent. My mother was a nurse not a trophy for this country’s advantageous attempt at polite interference with the Philippines' so-called misfortunes. U wish I was ur mail order bride don’t ya. 2017

2. This (untitled) sculptural painting depicts the dream where I carried a baby strapped to my back while climbing up a cliff. Around 9 kgs worth of (fragile and precious) responsibility. Like in so many of these dreams I fear that “everything is my fault” and that I must rescue whatever it is that I deem as vulnerable... I later feel the guilt of having idealised myself as playing a victim/hero. 2020

3. Battle tears. Tired. Hopeful that a change will come. I made this painting while listening to Sam Cooke. That vicarious exhaustion. 2018

4. Stop intervening so that we can self-manage - the Philippines. 2016

That trip to the Philippines in 2016 has never left my mind - the conversations where new friends generously filled me in on the history of my motherland that I’d managed to become separated from. How do I process the last 500 or so years of what my country has survived in blood-shed and tears caused by colonisation and corrupt governance? As an artist all the way over here, it feels ridiculous to attempt to insert myself in this narrative. I’ve indulged in feeling sorry for myself for missing out on this history. Later, I further indulge in shaming myself for having the audacity to feel sorry for myself.

5. Authentic tabo. “That which is unmarked is normal. That which is marked is abnormal.” My complex identity. Baptised with a tabo (a cleansing tool). Tell me I look like my mother. I want to set my skin on fire until it is dark brown. 2020

6. Help yourself - something I try to remind myself of from time to time. Mostly, with a sarcastic undertone. Dreaming of cleaning. (code for shame and feeling responsible.) I almost always dream of water. This time it was crashing waves - a typhoon hitting the shores of a pitch-black, cool night. A woman was murdered under the bamboo scaffold. She reminded me of my mum - they were both short Filipinas of around the same age. That’s me in the painting, hanging on there for dear life during the typhoon. I was scared of the police accusing me of her murder... Everyone at the beach had a backpack. (A metaphor for life baggage) I feel ashamed of what’s in mine. I can’t carry it - (the weight of the responsibility) feels too heavy. I believed it was my duty to clean up the beach (in the Philippines) with walis (a broom). Need to make it better. 2020