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Alien Nations

The word 'refugee' consists of five letters when it is spelled in Farsi, Dari and Hazaragi languages, all of which share a similar alphabetical system. Breaking the translated word refugee (muhajer) into its composing letters and reassembling the design of the first two letters creates a new identity, forming an alien bodily presence, which is a metaphor for the way refugees are displaced and separated from their family members. This newly created alien bodily presence can also symbolise the time when refugees are reunited with the elements of their past and their families witnessing the imposed change in each other, an unfamiliarity, which comes from the hardships they have endured and the profound experience of facing a new culture in a new place that has transformed their identity almost torn into resemblances of two different cultures. 

The title of this work 'Alien Nations' refers to the treatment of the refugees and asylum seekers in our contemporary global society by various governments around the world, where the government’s rhetoric of border control and terrorism has alienated refugees and thus the hosting nations have also become alienated to the refugees, because after traveling long distances and crossing seas, finding themselves rejected by their same human tribe that are enjoying peace, refugees can be left puzzled even questioning the existence of the unity of the human race in the first place.

 

The sculpture’s surface is blow torched, which is a narration of the war that refuges scape from. Upon touching the sculpture you are left with charcoal stain scars, which represent remnants of horror inflicted upon refugees in their homeland due to war, time spent in detention and rejection when they reach foreign lands such as Europe and Australia.

 

The material use in the sculpture is consist of new and use timber, the used timber is collected from kerbside rubbish in the suburbs, which is a metaphor for how a newly arrived refugees built their new life piece by piece forming new identity parallel to his/her old identity, where they pickup used house hold good from the kerbside due to financial limitation, thus a metaphysical connection is established without both parties being aware of it, the person that has put the items on the kerbside for collection and the person (refugee) that has picked it up to reuse it.

© 2019 Sha Sarwari