I have six photographs in a group exhibition 'Seeking Refuge' at Tuggeranong Arts Centre, which opens tonight in Canberra. Local and interstate artists were asked to confront the realities of the refugee experience through their art practice, including photography, film, mixed media installation, paintings and clay sculpture. Today I hung my works and got to hang out with exhibition curator Narelle Phillips and fellow artist Barak Zelig, whose work 'Large Boat for a Few People' (pictured) is just incredible. It reminds me that art, no matter the size, can move the viewer, especially if the artist was moved making it. My photographs were made in 2013 in Sydney with fellow photographer Laila Kazak, and we asked people to write their feelings on the federal government's offshore detention policy and then pose for a photograph. Human Rights lawyer and advocate Julian Burnside wrote an accompanying piece to the portraits that was originally published in New Matilda in 2013. I had hoped that by now these portraits would have been out of date, and that Australia's offshore detention policy would have been eradicated from history, but no, refugees are still in detention in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, suffering deplorable conditions that promote physical and mental health issues. I hope that these portraits will be relegated to the annals of history very soon, and that the Australian Government (and opposition) will soon see the light of day that offshore detention and processing is inhumane, and that their illegal treatment of people seeking asylum will come to an end. I am not optimistic that this will happen, even with PNG ruling that the Manus Island detention centre is illegal.
The exhibition opens at 6pm. Be sure to get along if you can.