'Between Worlds' explores the migrant experience in Australia. Through four distinct bodies of work, the artists examine language, expectations, overlooked stories and family archives to illuminate the fears and struggles that come with forming a new home.
Deconstructing themes of belonging, identity and bias through photography, painting, collage and mixed media, 'Between Worlds' offers a window into the complex myriad of experiences held by migrants in the Boroondara community and beyond.
This exhibition is proudly hosted by Boroondara Arts to coincide with and celebrate Harmony Week.
Featuring: Jorge Rodrigo Ceballos, Yask Desai, Heather Felix, Andres Murcia, Susie Raz and Simone Schroeder.
Many of the artworks in this exhibition are for sale. Visit our shop-external site to purchase an artwork.
Yask Desai’s series ‘Telia’ examines the experiences of the men who migrated from undivided India and worked as hawkers or travelling salesmen within rural Australia during the late 19th and early to mid-20th centuries. Their purpose for migrating was to earn money from the extended families they left behind. Telia was the name given to Australia by some family members who remained in India.
Employing found documents to establish the historical background impacting these men, Desai’s work extracts their personal narratives: the hardships they faced and enduring generational legacies.
Far from being a forgotten or bygone chapter in Australian history, the lives of the men who worked as hawkers enable an examination and reinterpretation of the ongoing colonial project in Australia. ‘Telia’ illustrates how the experiences of past generations directly affect and influence the lives and stories of those who follow.
‘For the One whose Voice was Silenced’ by Susie Raz tells the story of the persecution of her family in Europe during WWII. It focuses on the fate of both those who could flee and those who were unable to do so, most of whom perished.
Elsa Schwabach is Raz’s great grandmother. A Jewish woman living in Prague in the 1940s, Elsa’s family obtained a Landing Permit that should have enabled her to join those who had already fled to Australia. Tragically, she never received the permit and was murdered in Auschwitz in 1944. Elsa’s story was later told to her son by her niece, Kathe, in a letter which inspired her paintings.
I wish that by giving Elsa a voice through the telling of her story, her dignity is reinstated, and her memory can be laid to rest. Furthermore, Elsa’s story is of ongoing relevance. As wars rage around our planet, this exhibition can contribute to building a community that rejects all forms of discrimination and is guided by compassion and mutual respect.
Andres Murcia’s series ‘Language and Collage’ analyses the linguistic aspects of the English language from his perspective as a migrant Spanish speaker. Growing up in Bogota, Murcia studied a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and Literature at the National University of Columbia.
Murcia’s collages shift from direct references to language to more abstract imagery. Playing with English and Spanish words and phrases, Murcia identifies incompatible and sometimes humorous translations, highlighting how much language is understood through native familiarity and context. Such peculiarities worsen the ever-present impact of language as a barrier for migrants, causing frustration and isolation.
When my son was born, I could never adjust to calling him “Bubba”, as in Spanish, we refer to “saliva” with that sound. My son is Australian, and he never calls me “dad”. He refers to me as his “papá”. I could never call an Australian woman “my sky.” Still, it is very common in Colombian Spanish to call your wife “mi cielo”. Words are spoken, but in many cases, they must be felt.
Jorge Rodrigo Ceballos, Heather Felix and Simone Schroeder
Through their shared project ‘Conjetura Vermutung/ Cutting on the Bias’, artists Jorge Rodrigo Ceballos, Heather Felix and Simone Schroeder explore the relationships between visual and audio based unconscious bias, lived experience, physical place, and the dichotomy of an enriched social fabric through migration. The works feature individuals from across Melbourne, along with multi-generational long-term Boroondara residents and migrants, to appreciate the richness of their local stories as well as the difficulties they face.
Jorge Rodrigo Ceballos takes visitors on a journey where inherent bias and visual perceptions are identified and challenged through mismatched images and audio files.
The temptation to conclude things about others, be it due to their accents, colour, or clothes, is what motivates my work. Such assumptions are riddled with ignorance and baseless expectations, multiplied by a majority.
The works by Heather Felix uses the fabric as a metaphor to delve into the rich lived experiences of two multi-generational Boroondara resident families.
In each case, the eldest generation migrated to the Boroondara region almost 40 years ago. They started businesses, purchased homes, raised families, educated children, became active community members, and faced challenging and heart-warming times.
Simone Schroeder explores the lives of migrants living in Boroondara., engaging with the connections and relationships between their past and present identities, the places they live, and the symbols they cherish.
Each time we migrate to a new place, we unconsciously let go of small parts of our identities, which leads to empty gaps. To fill these voids, we begin merging and replacing spaces to create a new sense of belonging. Over time our identities may feel distorted, not precisely matching up or fitting entirely with our original sense of self.