Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art


Artists: Abbas Akhavan and Marina Roy

This project was originally conceived by artist and curator Andrea Pinheiro.

June 2 – August 4, 2012
Opening Reception: Friday, June 1, 2012, 8:00-10:00pm

Artists Talk:  Saturday, June 2, 1:00- 3:00 pm
A conversation with Abbas Akhavan and Marina Roy, moderated by Andrea Pinheiro
Followed by David Khang,
How To Feed A Piano, (Second Edition) book launch, 3:00-4:00pm

Lead Donors: David Cousins and Anndraya T. Luui 

Fire/Fire is new multimedia installation by Abbas Akhavan and Marina Roy co-organized by Centre A and Malaspina Printmakers. Collaborating since 2001, Akhavan and Roy are continuing their ongoing parallel research and practice. Fire/Fire calls out like a warning, of obvious danger, perhaps too late. The title derived from the Great Fire of Meireki, which destroyed more than half of the Japanese capital city of Edo, leading to the redistribution of power and the establishment of the Edo period that gave birth to the tradition of Ukiyo-e prints in Japan. It also refers to the Great Vancouver Fire of 1886, which razed most of the newly incorporated city, and more recently the building fires that expelled artists from their studios, paving the way for new real estate and condo development. Fires are testament to our inability to control nature.

At Centre A, Roy will exhibit a new video animation that depicts scenes of public and private life being overtaken by animistic creatures called yokai; these creatures allegorize the aftermath of human disaster and environmental collapse. The animation will be juxtaposed with an aquarium installation of salmon and catfish. In cultivating fish in the gallery the artist wishes to point to compartmentalized zones of bio-political control and gentrification beyond the gallery’s glass facade.

Using Centre A’s architecture, Akhavan will create a site specific artwork that address themes related to shifting economies in Vancouver’s real estate and urban development, natural disasters and local fires.

Fire/Fire will also include a selection of original Ukiyo-e prints and a book from the personal collections of John O’Brian and Paul de Guzman. The final component of the exhibition will be a collaborative artist book developed by Roy and Akhavan scheduled to be published in Fall 2012.

More information about the exhibition, please download the PDF

Fire/ Fire is co-organized by Centre A and Malaspina Printmakers Society.
Opening reception at Malaspina Printmakers (1555 Duranleau Street): Saturday, June 2, 5:00-7:00pm

ARTISTS biographies 


Abbas Akhavan was born in Tehran, and currently lives and works in Toronto. His practice ranges from site-specific ephemeral installations to drawing, video and performance. For the past five years, the domestic sphere has been an ongoing area of research in Akhavan’s work. Earlier works explore the relationship between the house and the nation state and how the trauma of systemic violence enacted upon civilians can be inherited and re-enacted within the family lineage – the home as a forked space between hospitality and hostility. More recent work has shifted focus onto spaces just outside the home – the garden, the backyard, and other domesticated landscapes.

Akhavan’s work has been exhibited in spaces including Vancouver Art Gallery, Darling Foundry, and Power Plant (Canada), KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Germany), Kunsten Museum of Modern Art (Denmark), Performa 11 (USA), Belvedere Museum (Austria) and The Delfina Foundation (England). Akhavan was the recipient of Kunstpreise Berlin (2012). Akhavan is represented by The Third Line.


In the pile-up of language and spectacle which constitutes our present moment, one role for art is to create a clearing within our petrified landscape, and, through tapping into the idea of a material intelligence and reassembling all this new and obsolete stuff, construct new conceptions of reality, shot through with historical memory, utopian aspirations, and pleasure.

Cross-disciplinary in scope, Roy’s art practice investigates the intersection between materials, language, history, and ideology. Her work addresses the desire for a post-humanist perspective, counter to the dictates of humanistic hubris and biopolitical control. Materials and objects themselves have multiple potential agency, and art can act as a bridge between culture and nature, ethics and drive. Roy has exhibited locally, nationally and internationally. In 2001 she published sign after the x (Artspeak/Arsenal Pulp), a book which revolves around the letter X and its multiple meanings. In 2010 she was recipient of the VIVA art award, British Columbia’s largest visual art award. She is associate professor of visual art in the Department of Art History, Visual Art, and Theory, at the University of British Columbia.


Centre A gratefully acknowledges the support of all its patrons, sponsors, embers, volunteers, partners, private foundations, and government funding agencies, the Canada Council for the Arts, the British Columbia Arts Council, and the City of Vancouver through the Office of Cultural Affairs.

Sincere thanks to our Lead Donors David Cousins and Anndraya T. Luui.

The artists wish to thank Arts Partners in Creative Development and Abbas Akhavan would like to thank the Ontario Arts Council.

Special thanks to John O’Brian and Paul de Guzman.