The SIEVX remembered

Issue 

Thirty-six artworks based on "A Certain Maritime Incident — the Sinking of the SIEVX"
By Nathalie Haymann
Kidogo Arthouse, Fishermans' Harbour (off Mews Road), Fremantle, WA
Until November 24, 10 am - 4 pm

On October 19, 2001, a nameless boat (suspected illegal entry vessel X — SIEVX) bringing 421 refugees to Australia sank in international waters, inside Australia's aerial surveillance zone. Approximately 146 children, 142 women and 65 men perished.

The appalling SIEVX scandal, with hints of a high-level cover-up if and possible
complicity in the slaughter, remains mysterious to this day.

Western Australian painter Nathalie Haymann, moved by journalist Tony Kevin's account of the disaster in A Certain Maritime Incident - the Sinking of the SIEVX, has produced 36 artworks reflecting the journey of the Iraqi, Afghan and Iranian refugees involved in the SIEVX. Her exhibition is titled Thirty-six artworks based on "A Certain Maritime Incident — the Sinking of the SIEVX"

"This is political art, moral art, in the best sense", Kevin told the opening night crowd in Fremantle. He was correct.

Haymann has risen above producing aggrieved propaganda. These are beautiful paintings, technically superb, gentle, but all the more powerful for their understatement.

The first one she produced, showing the Islamic angel of the sea cradling a new born baby in its arms, was based on a pregnant refugee who gave birth in the water and was found drowned, with her dead child still umbilically attached.

It would be a great pity if this collection were broken up. As an artistic statement, a memorial to the dead and a political intervention it deserves to be kept together in a specially designated national shrine.

That the SIEVX disaster is unresolved is to Australia's continuing shame. Nathalie Haymann's work demonstrates an Australian thirst for justice that points a humane way forward for this nation.