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Martial arts star Maria Tran delivers a scissor kick to sexism in Women of Fairfield

Originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Watching Maria Tran rain punches down on adversaries or scissor-kick across the cinema screen, it is hard to imagine anyone foolish enough to mess with her.

Yet Tran, an Australian-Vietnamese actor, director and martial arts specialist, says she was teased for being hyperactive and boyish when growing up in Fairfield in Sydney's west.

"I didn't quite get why girls had a set of etiquette that they had to follow," she says. "Martial arts was seen as too vigorous in comparison to academia lessons. But I did fall in love with Hong Kong cinema on VHS tapes and dreamed of one day become an action star, which is something I'm still trying to achieve."

Tran will take over a suburban car park with the Hissy Fit artist collective to present the three-part work Supreme Ultimate, which features a film and live performances of martial arts.

"Women of this area don't get many opportunities to showcase their talents in public spaces," Tran says. "So I think the live installation is an amazing way to allow women from the area to connect with the project and have the freedom to express themselves without labels or seen as inappropriate."

Supreme Ultimate is one of four artistic works that will be presented over two days in Women of Fairfield, which seeks to explore women's experiences in the western Sydney suburb.

The twilight art walks on October 7 and 8 are part of the Museum of Contemporary Art's C3West program, which curator Anne Loxley says is based on the belief that artists can make a difference to the world beyond the gallery.

"With this project we wanted to focus on women's experiences and the amazingly diverse communities of Fairfield," Loxley says. "For many cultural reasons, women are not that visible in Fairfield's public domain."

Other works in Women of Fairfield include Kate Blackmore's film All Wedding Wishes, which was inspired by Fairfield's extraordinary number of wedding reception centres and explores the traditions of an Iraqi-Assyrian wedding.

Blackmore spent almost 12 months documenting the elaborate preparations of prospective bride Nahren Georges. She also went to her wedding.

"For a culture wracked by war and destruction, the importance of happy experiences and memories, as well as demonstrating material success, cannot be over stated. The wedding features exquisite folkloric music and dance," Loxley says. "As Nahren explains, war has made her – and her young countrypeople – proudly embrace their cultural traditions."


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