RE-fugue: pro-refugee art installation opens in Perth

March 11, 2015

This week RE-fugue is happening. An artistic residency by Marziya Mohammedali about the intersection between art and activism. It's aimed at amplifying the voices of refugees, including those currently in detention and inspiring people to get active.

As you enter the space you're confronted with an installation that resembles a tent from Manus Island detention centre. Depending on when you attend the residency, you might get to help out creating the installation — though you've missed the really fun part of getting the tarpaulins up.

Interacting with the space during the week is all part of the experience. Another activity is crossing out a word of the Maritime Act whenever you enter as part of the "change the narrative" thread running throughout. Currently the tent is being outfitted with video projections of the conditions on Manus Island combined with audio recordings from asylum seekers suffering there. It's shaping up to give people an evocative impression of how terrible life is in a detention centre.

Continuing through the space you'll come across letters from refugees in detention. Giving moving descriptions of their experiences in detention and why they are forced to seek asylum. However they also contain an element of hope, as they express their gratitude for the actions being taken by refugee activists and the positive difference they are making.

From here the residency channels your sorrow and anger into activism. From photos covering years of protests by refugee activists outside remote detention centres to objects from these protests like a soccer ball with "Azadi" ("freedom" in Farzi) written on it. The ball was thrown over a detention centre fence in a symbolic act of breaking down the barriers.

Sculptures of the word freedom written in the different languages of asylum seekers in detention adorn the room and a banner made from designs drawn in Yongah hill detention centre hangs on the wall.

Finishing off the residency is a collection of inspiring films shot at refugee actions. Including a few documentaries from refugee convergences made for Green Left TV and others by this author.

It's open till March 14 and includes a Symposium on Thursday night and a creative workshop on Saturday morning. Come along to it and let me know how awesome you think the films are ;)

You can find more information here.

Here's an interview I did with the artist in residence Marziya Mohammedali on its first day.

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