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B L A K

D O U G L A S J U M A A D I

M E H W I S H N E R I N E

I Q B A L

M A R T I N I

S U S A N N A H W I L L I A M S A N D W A R R E N A R M S T R O N G L U P I N G Z E N G A N D C H E N G Z E N G

C U R A T O R :

P A U L

H O W A R D


D I A S P O R A - M A K I N G P A U L

M A C H I N E S

H O W A R D

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lacktown is a site of continuous waves of migration. Since the handing by Governor Macquarie of the first land grant ever given to Aboriginal people in 1816, and the establishment of the Blacktown Native Institution in 1823 to reform Aboriginal and Maori children, communities have been moving to Blacktown, by choice and sometimes by force. Today, the area continues to expand exponentially with significant flows of people from around the world, and from across Australia. Diaspora-Making Machines explores the issues surrounding the dispersal of communities through the prism of coercive movement and the instruments of power. Eight artists’ projects engage with Blacktown’s historic place as a centre of migration, today’s ‘migrant crisis’ that pervades the mass media and our attitudes to newcomers, belonging and assimilation. The exhibition analyses the underlying systemic devices that generate movement through a range of contemporary artists’ projects that reflect the themes of dispersal and scattering of communities. Artists have engaged with people who have moved to Blacktown and with the area’s unique soundscapes, narratives and memories that help shape the city and the broader national identity.

The term diaspora-making machine was first used by Sarat Maharaj, a South African-born art historian of Indian heritage, who is a British citizen living in Germany. In an essay published first in Australia in 1999, Maharaj used the term to describe Vasco da Gama’s ship which, in the 15th century, made the first journey connecting Europe and Asia by sea route; and, the mega diaspora-making machine of the 20th century: Apartheid South Africa. The logic of diaspora lies in the organisation of power and governance. The ‘calculating machine’ switches on, sizing up, calibrating and classifying units to be dispersed.1 An alternative theoretical machine was described by Vannevar Bush in his 1945 essay “As We May Think”.2 Bush conceived of a collective memory machine in his concept of the ‘memex’ that would make knowledge more accessible. Through this machine, Bush hoped to transform an information explosion into a knowledge explosion. Today, the ‘memex’ might serve as a model for the transfer of knowledge across and between diasporic cultures. Rather than units to be ‘classified and dispersed’, an accumulation of diasporas creates a complex interweb of systems of knowledge.

B L A K

D O U G L A S

My series of works is a contemporary interpretation of the continued disrespect for an ancient land and the malice directed toward those who try to defend what once was. Contrasting the machinations of modernity with the natural landscape, the works highlight the cryptic and subconscious presence of the diaspora machine, and reference Captain Cook’s arrival and Captain Phillip steering the first seven vessels into the harbour. It was reputed that the Cadigal people hardly flinched but rather ‘kept about their fishing as if not to notice’. Therefore the diaspora-making machine to me is like a landmine. One knows it’s there but one hopes you’ll never encounter it.

W O R K S Palindrome #1 (Eros & Sore), 1900 x 1700 mm, Synthetic polymer on canvas, 2013

Pipe Dreams (Part A), 1000 x 1100 mm, Synthetic polymer on canvas, 2016

Pipe Dreams (Part B), 1000 x 2000 mm, Synthetic polymer on canvas, 2016

Pipe Dreaming, 1330 x 2000 mm, Painted terracotta drain pipes, photograph, 2016

1 Sarat Maharaj, Fatal Natalities, the algebra of diaspora and difference after apartheid, page 41`in Photofile 57, Photomedia Journal, October 1999, ‘Strange’ edited by Nikos Papastergiadis, publ. by the Australian Centre for Photography. 2 Vanneevar Bush, As We May Think, in The Atlantic, July 1945 issue, http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/303881/


J U M A A D I The bridal bed came from a village near the town of Sumenep on Madura, a small island just north of Java and populated by a proudly Muslim community. The motifs and carvings on the bed reveal the Chinese influence on Indonesian art and culture. In Sumenep, this bed would have been used as a divan for newlyweds. Other family members would sleep on the floor of the house on woven mats near the bed. It is literally speaking, a stage for love. Nowadays not many traditional beds remain in Madura. Most have been taken to nearby Bali and, from there, exported around the world. They are also popular as beds and couches in hotels and as decoration in art shops and restaurants on the tourist island. To meet the demands of tourism and exoticism, copies of the original are also made in teak featuring more elaborate carving and furnishings by artisans and workers from the islands of Java and Madura. ‘Stage of Love’ explores the promise and expectation of arranged marriage, contemporary diaspora and slave trading, and their various forms of transactions through an object. The paintings on each panel are a combination

of the existing painted decorations and my own work. The work is dedicated to a Balinese woman who was murdered by her husband in Sydney in 2006. Her Australian husband then shot himself. The killing was motivated by jealousy; the woman, scared and far from home, stabbed to death by her partner. W O R K Stage of Love, 2000 x 2670 x 1640 mm, Sculpture and painting, 2016

M E H W I S H

W O R K S Forcefield Of Complex Journeys, 600 x 3000 x 200 mm (10 parts), 2016

N E R I N E

Home Away From Home, 60 x 1200 x 260 mm,Thread and metal, (40 parts), 2016

I Love You, 280 x 280 mm, (10 parts), Brail on paper, 2016

M A R T I N I

My work is a poetic response to the uncertainties of our time, as well as a personal reflection of memories of home, belonging and up-rootedness. The centre-piece is a sculpture in the form on an anchor entitled Between Certainties, and deals with elements of opposition. An anchor represents security and safety: to be anchored. However, the sculpture is covered in checkered plastic, the type that is associated with cheap carry-all bags, evocative of poverty and mobility. W O R K S Between Certainties, 4100 x 1400 x 1050 mm, Plywood and woven plastic bags, 2016

Questions of Travel, 2400 x 1800 x 300 mm, Bamboo, string, woven plastic bags, 2016

I Q B A L

Diaspora-Making Machines has inspired me to create a body of work that marks the current rising influx of refugee/ migrant diasporas from the Middle East entering Europe and the western world. It poses some serious questions regarding the issue of the Middle East crisis forcing massive populations to leave their homes and belongings to enter alien landscapes for the sole need of survival. The work titled ‘Here There and Nowhere’ comments on the fragile and complex state of individuals who do most of the movement yet lack control over their situation. It incorporates sensitively etched drawings onto porcelain slip cast sculptures, generating a discourse around the individual experiences of those who have generously shared their stories with me. It acts as a vehicle to retrace memory through the shift of space and time reflecting upon a state of flux among individuals who constantly locate and relocate themselves in pursuit of home and belonging.


S U S A N N A H & W A R R E N

W I L L I A M S A R M S T R O N G

’Listening Device VII: Felt Histories’ is an interactive installation that audiences are invited to engage with by taking off their shoes, walking through it and touching its surfaces. As they do so, they are immersed in binaurally recorded soundscapes and stories delivered by wireless headphones. The work explores the network of administrative machinery that turns people into populations to be documented, displaced by forcible removal or inducement, processed, resettled and integrated. The visible elements of the work include a large-scale floor mounted drawing in copper tape, abstracted from official maps of migrant populations in Blacktown and samples from the documentation used to initiate the processing of refugee arrivals in the immediate post-WWII period, embroidered on the actual blankets given to refugees when they first arrived in Australia at that time. As a counterpoint to this impersonal documentary material, the audio elements of this work are the stories of those who have been through various configurations of this machinery. These are coupled with soundscapes of Blacktown as a place where real lives happen at local pools, along the main street, at

celebrations in community halls, the Showground, work places and sports events.

W O R K Listening Device VII: Felt Histories, 2480 x 2640 mm (floor), 1200 x 1200 mm (wall), Wool, cotton and conductive yarn, wooden platform, copper tape, WWII wool blanket, conductive material, embroidery and steel thread, Raspberry Pi, Touch Screen, audio recordings, audio circuitry, 2016

L U P I N G Z E N G & C H E N G Z E N G Luping’s epic painting series, called ‘Blacktown Men Perform Chinese Opera’ (The Butterfly Lovers), links his story of migration to Australia with a contemporary visual dialogue between Chinese and Australian cultures. The operatic story of the Butterfly Lovers is now one of China’s four great folktales, the others being the Legend of the White Snake, Lady Meng Jiang and the Cowherd and the Weaving Maid.

W O R K S Luping Zeng, Liang Shanbo, 1220 x 910 mm, Oil on canvas 2016

Luping Zeng, Fly Together, 1220 x 910 mm, Oil on canvas, 2016

Luping Zeng, Zhu Yingtai, 1220 x 910 mm, Oil on canvas, 2016

Cheng Zeng, Confusion?, 1210 x 1820 mm, Oil on canvas and light, 2016

Luping Zeng, See Off, 1220 x 910 mm, Oil on canvas, 2016

Luping’s son, Cheng Zeng, creates artwork as a metaphor that explores the individual’s interpretations and understandings of the same subject matter affected by differences in upbringing and culture. The artwork utilises black light on a set timer, acting as a filter to the image, allowing engagement and interaction with the work through changes in colour, shape and form of the subject matter. The work incorporates Confucius and Buddha Maitreya, two of the most influential cultural icons in Chinese history. It evokes responses from viewers as well as challenges their individual understanding and interpretation of themselves. Ultimately the work invites self-reflection and interpretation of humanity and existence based on one’s own value and belief systems.

Blacktown Arts Centre

T 9839 6558 E artscentre@blacktown.nsw.gov.au W blacktownarts.com.au A 78 Flushcombe Rd, Blacktown NSW 2148 Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm (closed public holidays) General admission free BlacktownArtsCentre

@BlacktownArts

Blacktown Arts Centre is an initiative of Blacktown City Council supported by Arts NSW

Diaspora-Making Machines | Exhibition Roomsheet  

Diaspora-Making Machines (29 September - 4 November) is an exhibition that explores the systemic devices (the machines) that generate moveme...

Diaspora-Making Machines | Exhibition Roomsheet  

Diaspora-Making Machines (29 September - 4 November) is an exhibition that explores the systemic devices (the machines) that generate moveme...

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