‘Safe Space’ looks at the experience of living in Australia as a refugee or descendant of refugees. It explores the uneasy relationship of living in a country which is at once a sanctuary and a censor. Recent interrogation of my own experience of growing up in Australia as a child of refugees has uncovered layers of pain and trauma that have been chronically suppressed.
In an isolated, young country which has suffered only a small proportion of the traumas of the rest of the world, and which still clings to it’s colonial British values of the stiff upper lip and keeping negative emotions firmly locked away, there is little space for refugees and their families to share their experiences, and process familial traumas. We smile and pretend everything is ok, because we learn very quickly that to express the shadows is to alienate oneself from Australian society.
In this 2 channel video and audio piece, I used the Australian wilderness as a cypher for this experience, expressing the duality of the conscious desire to accept Australia as a safe space, with the subconscious traumas which weep and refuse to heal, because they not allowed to be seen.
The audio tracks mirror this duality, interacting with each other and placing the viewer in the middle of the battle refugees and their families live with everyday.