Christoph Wachter & Mathias Jud present Landung in Australien, an exhibition that explores the complexities surrounding refugee and asylum seeker policies within the context of Australian national law.
We experience nowadays a shrinking world with simultaneous communication and borderless travel options. The continents get closer, cultures meet, and goods and people can constantly exchange. At the same time worlds drift apart between those who are privileged with civil rights and residence permits, and those who are excluded and suppressed.
The lives of those who came by boat – of those men, women and children in indefinite, mandatory detention – lies completely in the hands of the Australian authorities. What they eat, what they read, when and with whom they can speak – all this is consistently determined by the authorities of Australia, the same country they shall never reach.
Dramatic escapes and traumatic boat odysseys continue in pointless undetermined detention. Who ever has the choice of travel opportunities would never undertake a life-threatening non seaworthy boat. Horrifying experiences that can hardly be conveyed are extended in detention, in a limbo whose only purpose is to use these people’s existence in this place as a deterrence for others.
Here, it remains to reconstruct exactly what the current world characterises: the shortening of distances, the approximation, the options for connections. It is about finding a link and making a connection despite censorship and upheavals. In the forming of connections lies also the option to learn something about actual underlying power conditions. We might establish connections, that open insights and work as bridges over specific, contrary horizons of experience and beyond a divided world and power political segmentation.
These connections are complex not only because certain forms of communication are prohibited in detention: differences also stem from cultural and individual forms of expression, and may result in the forming of a political meaning. But in dire situations it touches even more crucial possibilities: to appear as human beings and to receive social attention. This attention is existential, because it decides whether survival is possible or whether humans are left sinking in forced neglect and disclosure. It involves the necessity to be able to transmit a sign of life and to appear on the surface, as persecuted, threatened and marginalised voices and not to be drowned as a deposit in a power political and geopolitical whirl.
To be recognised and perceived as life depends on not going down, whether on the open sea or in the whirl of power political debates.
Wachter and Jud entered Australia with an eVisitor (subclass 651) visa. Landung in Australien showcases the outcomes of a 9-week research project held with the QUT Creative Industries Precinct as part of Move On: European Media Artists in Residence Exchange (EMARE).