art

"Why are we still here?"

Dear Prime Minister,

J. Luan is an artist and a refugee. He started painting in detention on Manus Island and is now a political prisoner under Australian Border Force Policies in Port Moresby. In his painting "Confusion" he asks:

Why are we still here after 3 years? We have done nothing wrong. Even after Court said it is illegal, still we are here.
— J. Luan, http://therefugeeartproject.com/home/j-luan-an-artist-trapped-in-papua-new-guinea/
'Confusion’ 40 x 50 cm, oil. ‘Why are we still here after 3 years? We have done nothing wrong. Even after Court said it is illegal, still we are here’ $800 to $1000

'Confusion’ 40 x 50 cm, oil. ‘Why are we still here after 3 years? We have done nothing wrong. Even after Court said it is illegal, still we are here’ $800 to $1000

For the 209th man on Manus Island

Dear Prime Minister,

Behrouz Boochani wrote this message today:

"Today the movie 'Chauka Please Tell Us The Time' will show at the Refugee Alternatives conference at UNSW. The movie was made on a mobile phone from inside the Manus prison. It is a movie against colonialism and the ongoing racist thinking that underpins it. Yesterday I was able to give a short speech in the conference about artistic works and how it's important that we record the history of Australian prisons in artistic language. I also talked about the 'Manus' play and my co-operation with the artists who produced it outside of the prison. I hope to see you in the conference today. I'll be watching from Manus island."
Behrouz Boochani

The play, 'Manus', is currently being performed in Tatre Shahr, the biggest place for artistic works in Tehran (Iran), It was made on the basis of longterm research about what is happening in Manus Island and Nauru and is directed by Nazanin Sahamizadeh.

A work of art can last for ever, Mr Turnbull. Here are two such works, a film and a play, both telling the world about Australia's inhumanity. We want a new plot for these characters and a different judgement for Australia. Close the camps and bring them here.

For the 135th man on Manus Island

Dear Prime Minister,

Mr J. Luan is an Iranian refugee on Manus Island. He has been illegally detained and tortured there by Australia since 2013. Mr Turnbull, you and your wife are well-known collectors of contemporary art. I commend to you the paintings that Mr Luan has made since his imprisonment and which are now for sale. You will be investing in a key creative moment in Australia's political and cultural history and expressing your support for enterprise by purchasing Mr Luan's artworks.

J. Luan, " Submission ", oil, A3, $400. 'There is no option but wait and wait. How long?'

J. Luan, "Submission", oil, A3, $400. 'There is no option but wait and wait. How long?'

I am a refugee who has left offshore detention Island because of mental and physical illness and I came to Port Moresby. They are not supporting me adequately because I did not sign the resettlement in Papua New Guinea. I don’t like charity or begging of people to get financial support but I use my talent to survive in these harsh conditions. Art to me is like dancing with the brush, no need for a plan, just moving with what comes from deep within.
— http://therefugeeartproject.com/home/j-luan-an-artist-trapped-in-papua-new-guinea/

For the 130th man on Manus Island

On behalf of the 130th man on Manus Island, I present a second artwork of Mr Sha Sarwari. "Silent Conversation" is an installation of 1975 blank postcards. It was exhibited at Walker Street Gallery in Melbourne where it was awarded the national Home and Art prize. 

Hazara refugee Sha Sarwari with his floor-based installation Silent Conversation, featuring 1,975 blank postcards. Photograph: Michael Cranfield

Hazara refugee Sha Sarwari with his floor-based installation Silent Conversation, featuring 1,975 blank postcards. Photograph: Michael Cranfield

In the course of developing the artwork Mr Sarwari reflected on the meaning of seeking asylum when he was told by another Australian that "we welcome refugees but they should stay in their home country and build their own country ... it should not always be an option to leave, to run away." Mr Sarwari's response is:

But I don’t call it ‘running away’. By leaving, I say no to war, no to killing, no to destruction.
I think violence and fighting and killing will get you nowhere. It will keep going and going, especially where I come from, where the basic infrastructure of life in terms of values and the fabric of society is broken.
If I was back home, let’s say, to stay as that person said, to protect my life, I would be killed or kill someone. To me, not doing that is a contribution towards peace.
By leaving the country, I think all refugees, they’re not only seeking peace and protection. They are contributing towards peace and freedom.
— https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/jul/14/sha-sarwari-australia-refugee-artists-blank-postcards-attitudes-asylum-seekers

Mr Turnbull, Australia needs these people who are committed to contributing towards peace and freedom. Close offshore detention and bring the refugees on Manus Island and Nauru here.

For the 129th man on Manus Island

Dear Prime Minister,

On behalf of the 129th refugee on Manus Island I present the words of Mr Sha Sarwari, an Australian citizen, a Hazara and former refugee from Afghanistan. His video art work 'Suspended' was exhibited at Brisbane's 'Jugglers Art Space' in September 2016.

Even for me, living in Australia for the past 15 years, I haven’t found my foothold in my life here.
When I see my fellow refugees … it renews my memory that I don’t belong here, I have to go back one day, so it doesn’t let me settle.

Mr Sarwari's black and white video, "Suspended" shows an origami boat made of newspaper drifting on the ocean, going forwards and backwards in an infinite loop.

Suspended in a wave, going backwards and forwards and backwards and there’s no ending is to do with my own memory.
Also to do with the people that are living in detention centres for the past few years now in Manus Island and Nauru, places like that, it’s been mentioned to them time and time again that you have to go back, you have to go back.
In the media, they say that if you come by boat you won’t be settled here, you will never end up in Australia, so this narrative has made me and my fellow refugees like they don’t feel settled.

He used a newspaper boat to also critique media coverage on asylum seekers.

Going with the policy of the government most of the time, not resisting, not telling the truth, not putting a light on the issue from both sides, and dehumanising the refugees.
It’s a kind of stigma attached to being boat people.

I don’t care, I tell whoever I meet that I came by boat, but there are people who want to hide that.
It’s refugees that say no to war, no to violence, no to killing … they run away towards peace, so the countries that are on the side of peace, they should welcome [refugees] and make a peaceful force out of them.
— http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-03/brisbane-exhibition-displays-artworks-by-refugees/7810850

Mr Turnbull, bring the refugees on Manus Island and Nauru to Australia and welcome them to be part of the force for peace.