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The Shouting Valley: Interrogating the Borders Between Us

Hoda Afshar, Portrait of Shamindan & Ramisyar, from the series Remain (2018) courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane

PRESS RELEASE

The Shouting Valley: Interrogating the Borders Between Us

September 28th – December 14th 2019

Opening Event, Friday September 27th from 6pm

Gus Fisher Gallery

Lawrence Abu Hamdan (Lebanon) Hoda Afshar (Iran / Australia), Shahriar Asdollah-Zadeh (Philippines / Aotearoa New Zealand), Cushla Donaldson (Aotearoa New Zealand), Jun Yang (Austria / Taiwan / Japan).

“I am a shadow of my former self. I no longer smile or laugh like I used to, or make others laugh.”

Displayed message from detainee, 501s by Cushla Donaldson

The Shouting Valley: Interrogating the Borders Between Us features artists whose politically motivating and activating work asks us to engage in urgent discussions of injustice in order to effect change. The works in this exhibition highlight contemporary issues relating to borders and migration, questioning why freedom of movement often appears to be a Western privilege; a subject in the forefront of people’s minds following the tragic events in Christchurch and the controversy surrounding the treatment of refugees at Australian off-shore detention centres. As a country largely populated by migrants, the exhibition resonates with Aotearoa’s diverse history and asks us to think about our own whakapapa.

A place in the Golan Heights provides the name for the exhibition. Located between Syria and Israel the ‘shouting valley’ has a unique topography which enables an acoustic leak across the border. It is here that members of the Druze population meet on either side to hear each other’s voices and wave to one another across the divide. This subject is the focus of a critical exploration into the politics of the voice and the border by Turner-prize nominee Lawrence Abu Hamdan with his pivotal work Language Gulf in the Shouting Valley (2013).

Cushla Donaldson’s major video installation 501s (2018) foregrounds the voice and perspectives of current detainees. Named after the group of people being detained and deported in the recent wave of visa cancellations by the Australian Government,

501s uses new technology to allow current detainees, as well as those already deported from Australia under the Migration Act (1958) to text in and disrupt her moving image work on the instrumentalisation of glamour and soft power.

Communicating the experiences of migrants on Australian off-shore detention centres is Hoda Afshar’s portrait series Remain (2018), made in collaboration with men who remained on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, following the closure of the island’s detention facility. Working closely with Kurdish Iranian journalist and refugee Behrouz Boochani, whose portrait is included, Afshar’s works are a stark reminder of the injustices of migration laws, a topic rightfully at the centre of ongoing and current debates.

A newly commissioned artist-designed wallpaper complete with traditional Chinese ink paintings forms part of a large-scale installation called Becoming European or How I Grew up with Wiener Schnitzel (2015) by Jun Yang. Using Google’s image repository to narrate his experience of migration with reference to the European Migrant Crisis of 2015, Yang’s video is a prescient reminder of the pervasive stereotypes placed on people who choose to migrate. As asked in his video, “Isn’t migration a human right or part of human nature?”

New painting by Shahriar Asdollah-Zadeh explores the fragility of borders as seen from afar. Titled Pale Blue Dot, the paintings relate to the experience of seeing first-hand the Earth from outer space. As national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide people become less important reminding us of the need to see past these imposed divisions. These paintings are accompanied by an existing work interpreting the myth of Sispyhus and society’s burden of fear.

The Shouting Valley is the last exhibition in Gus Fisher Gallery’s ambitious 2019 programme since reopening in April following a refurbishment to its Grade I listed interior and with a new Curator at its helm.

Bringing together major new commissions, immersive installations and artwork never seen before in Aotearoa, The Shouting Valley foregrounds voices that would otherwise be unheard, and asks for us all to take the time to listen.

*Press Release end.

The Shouting Valley: Interrogating the Borders Between Us

September 28th– December 14th 2019

Exhibition open Tuesday – Friday 10 – 5, Saturday 10 – 4

Gus Fisher Gallery

74 Shortland Street

Auckland Central


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