The concept of my work will continue to be that of those in a state of statelessness. My previous works have played off my own family’s personal journey in seeking asylum in Australia after the Vietnam War and has been used as a major catalyst in my creation of powerful depictions to audiences. This time I want to be more raw, more influential and important is all aspect, but I am not sure how to go about it.
This week has acted like a moment of brainstorming and critical thinking about my projects aims and trajectory. I have never intended to present political works but to continue these depictions of people on this scale, it offers more substance to make meaningful.
Jo and I spoke about what avenues are present in the line of my work and we both agreed that delving into a political state was a strong option. Rather than creating works about the people themselves, I need to look into the real issues – how governments and authorities are reacting to the growing population of refugees. For these people I am chanelling:
what is determining their futures?
what is the right thing to do?
what makes us human?
The 1951 Refugee Convention is the key legal document that forms a sector in the basis of my work. Ratified by 145 State parties, it defines the term ‘refugee’ and outlines the rights of the displaced, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them. The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. This is now considered a rule of customary international law.
UNHCR serves as the ‘guardian’ of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol. According to the legislation, States are expected to cooperate with us in ensuring that the rights of refugees are respected and protected. Australia being a participant in this convention triggers my curiosity further, how is Australia and countries alike handling these issues more that 60 years later and how can I use this to investigate further?