That Fire Over There takes fire as a metaphor for ideas around queer attachment, proximity, and personal and collective transformation. It also excavates the history of a real fire which in 1981 destroyed the Hambrough Tavern – a contested site symbolic of provocation and conflict against far-right groups in Southall, west London, where Prem Sahib grew up.
A rich body of images – documenting artworks which explore gay cruising, selected from family photo collections, and displaying ephemera from the archive of Prem Sahib’s uncle Kamaljit Sahib, a notable activist in Southall of the 1980s and 90s – combines with extracts from a dream diary and exchanges with family members. Added to this are newly commissioned texts and correspondence by Sita Balani, Milovan Farronato, Reba Maybury and Ashkan Sepahvand, engaging with emotional themes such as grief, shame and loss. Prem Sahib’s own writing makes connections between interlocutors and carves out a space for otherwise disparate material to coexist, all in the pursuit of questioning ideas around freedom, sexuality, and intergenerational experiences of place and politics.
This publication expands on a series of three exhibitions made by Prem Sahib, collectively titled Descent and shown at Southard Reid Gallery in 2019–20. Descent is i. People Come & Go; ii. Cul de Sac; iii. Man Dog; and now, iv. That Fire Over There.
Prem Sahib’s work has been shown widely including solo institutional exhibitions Balconies, Kunstverein Hamburg, 2017 and Side On, ICA London, 2015, as well in group shows at spaces that include Sharjah Art Foundation, Migros Museum, Whitechapel Gallery, Hayward Gallery, KW Institute of Art, Des Moines Art Centre and the Gwangju Biennale. Their work is in the collections of Tate, The Arts Council, Government Art Collection, UK, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA, Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Norway, and MONA, Australia.