Current Issue #488

Work of Art: Tara Rowhani-Farid and the overlap between analogue and virtual worlds

Work of Art: Tara Rowhani-Farid and the overlap between analogue and virtual worlds

Tara Rowhani-Farid’s work is set to become a part of the city after landing The City of Adelaide acquisitive award at the 2019 Helpmann Academy Graduate Exhibition.

University of South Australia Honours graduate Tara Rowhani-Farid recieved the award at the opening night of the exhibition on February 14 – a prize that she had her eye on.

“I actually hoped that I would be the one to win it. It meant that my work would go into the City of Adelaide Contemporary Acquisitive collection,” says Rowhani-Farid. “This really meant a lot to me. I love Adelaide, you know. It is such a vibrant, nurturing city. It’s nice to know that my work is part of the city now.”

It was the cherry on top of an already successful year for Tara, after she secured the Helpmann Academy ACE Open residency at the end of 2018. The opportunity provides a South Australian emerging artist with a 12-month studio residency at the flagship contemporary space, along with a comprehensive public program – something Tara is particularly looking forward to.

“Part of the deal with the residency is that ACE are running a studio program where you have the opportunity to meet with visiting artists and creators – the program starts in April – I’m really excited to have the chance to have conversations with an incredible line-up of people,” says Rowhani-Farid. “It is really lovely having a community of people around when you’re making work. It makes it a very joyous thing.”

It is an auspicious start to an arts career that almost never was.

“I actually never really showed that much of an interest in art. I didn’t study it at school after year 10. I got to a point in my early to mid-twenties when I didn’t really know what to do and was feeling really lost,” says Rowhani-Farid. “Actually, it was my mum who told me to go study visual art and I just thought I should listen to what my mum says for a change. She seemed to know something I didn’t, I suppose. I got to university and realised that painting made me feel really good, really bad, and I guess everything in between.

“The passion became quite an obsession and all I want to do now is paint.”

Works by Tara Rowhani-Farid (Photo: Grant Hancock)

Tara’s colourful paintings play within the overlap between the analogue and virtual world – and people’s changing attitudes to both spaces.

“I was living in Coober Pedy when my family got the internet for the first time. And we were allowed to have 15 minutes each a day. I would play this lizard game online and even though I was playing this weird mindless game I would talk about it as this magnificent almost cultured thing to be doing – being on the internet. Now it’s sort of the opposite,” says Rowhani-Farid. “You’re very cultured if you go and be in the world and do things – if you look at art, you know. But what if you can do both at the same time? That’s what I am interested in.”

Embedded in many of her works are QR (Quick Response) codes, the maligned two-dimensional barcodes first designed in 1994 for the automotive industry in Japan.

“They’re just such a funny little technology. They’re really not that difficult to use but for some reason they’re not really user-friendly – people don’t really know what to do with them. I feel sorry for them in a way – they have this really grand potential, for communication, application and function,” says Rowhani-Farid. “I like the idea that I can print them onto my paintings and give them a direct, clear online life, an unlockable potential. It feels like a bit of a secret contained in the work.”

“Most people won’t bother to scan them, or really won’t know how. Its information hidden in plain sight.”

Tara Rowhani-Farid’s work is on display as part of the 2019 Helpmann Academy Graduate Exhibition, on at Drill Hall, Torrens Parade Ground daily until March 10, 10:30am – 4:30pm.

To find out more about Helpmann Academy’s programs head to

The Adelaide Review is a media partner of Helpmann Academy

Header image:
Olivia Power

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