Beyond Borders by MAPgroup documents the unique experiences of asylum seekers and refugees seeking a safer life under challenging circumstances, through photographs and multimedia stories. Few of us have had the opportunity to know people in this harrowing position and hear their stories. Participants – who are from countries including Burma, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Jordan, Colombia, Iran and Somalia – share their unique stories in their own words, reminding us that these are people, not problems.
The Beyond Borders exhibition will officially open at Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E) in Ballarat on Saturday 22 August from 3 – 5pm and the exhibition will continue until 20 September. Refugee Advocate Mohammad Ali Baqiri will open the exhibition (TBC). Everyone is welcome and exhibition admission is free.
Located on the historic site of the 1854 Eureka Stockade, M.A.D.E tells the compelling story of democracy in Australia. Beyond Borders is a fringe exhibition as part of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, a month long festival of photography.
Photographers involved in Beyond Borders are: Julie Bowyer, Andrew Chapman, Rodney Dekker, Joseph Feil, Silvi Glattaeur, Ponch Hawkes, Naomi Herzog, Jenny Hodge, Helga Leunig, Nicole Marie, Jim McFarlane, Tobias Titz and Juanita Wilson.
MAPgroup, an independent association of approximately 40 documentary photographers, is recognised for telling stories not often told by the mainstream media.
Each of the 13 photographers explore varied themes including the universality of being a parent; the longing for loved ones separated by displacement or death; the difficulty of being torn between two cultures; and the importance of sports in building confidence amongst young people. But it is the words of the participants, woven into the exhibition, which are most powerful.
According to the Refugee Council of Australia, there were 51.2 million forcibly displaced persons in 2013. As a signatory of the UN Refugee Convention, Australia has obligations to assist. Yet in an age of increasingly hardline policies, border control rhetoric overshadows human rights considerations. This is compounded by the largely negative portrayal of this vulnerable demographic in the mainstream media.
Beyond Borders reminds us that these are people, not problems. People who have much to contribute; people who have the same desires for their children; people who are resilient; and people who have so many stories to tell. Because it is through sharing personal stories that we can transcend the divisions between us- that we can go beyond borders.