Origin-Transit-Destination (O-T-D)

Who are we? Who is “one of us”? What codes must we live by? Who are we part of? Whose humanity do we recognize as akin to our own? And a further, terrible question: What do we owe those whose humanity we fail to recognize? - Suvendrini Perera

Australian Performance Exchange has invited participatory media arts group, pvi collective to collaborate in developping Origin-Transit-Destination: a large-scale, multi-lingual, mobile performance project which probes the contentious issue of asylum seekers through the eyes of the witnesses to their story: ordinary people in Indonesia and the asylum seekers themselves: four remarkable artists from Iraq. 

The project aims to take the audience on a literal and metaphorical journey, much as asylum-seekers have. As people-on-the-move, audiences will travel from the inner city (Familiar, known: ORIGIN) via stops (TRANSIT) to the outer city fringes (foreign land: DESTINATION). Along the way they will encounter a shifting world of installation and video, intimate personal encounters, live video interviews; and chance conversation, before finally entering a zone of hospitality, performance, sublime music and provocative video.  

The aim of the project is to interrogate media spin and the construction of asylum-seeker branding by presenting the “real people” as witnesses and artists of their own experience. To get to know these people, human-human, in order to challenge prevailing de-personalised and politicised representations of the asylum seeker-as- alien, rendered silent and inaccessible. 

The project began in Sulawesi Indonesia in 2010, funded by Asialink, where APE collaborated with Teater Kita Makassar, to interview and film ordinary Indonesian people in Bau Bau, about their response to the many asylum seekers they encountered in their everyday life. Ryan Pickard filmed further interviews in Lombok in 2011.  

In 2011, we worked for a week with two mature Iraqi poets and refugees, Jamal Al Hallaq and Nashaa Alrubaee from the Auburn Poets and Writers Group and video artist Sean Bacon, performers Georgina Naidu and Osamah Sami, playwright Donna Abela, dramaturge, Yana Taylor and director, Sally Sussman. The workshop identified the lived experience and the diverse voices of the refugee-artists, Jamal, Nashaa and Osamah as the focus of the project.  Those interviewed on film about asylum seekers in Indonesia: the cook, the boat captain, the hotel owners, the pedicab driver and finally the people-smuggler, would be the other “real people” we would present.  

The latest development of Origin-Transit-Destination takes place at Fairfield and Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, for three weeks in February/March 2014.  Joining our team are young artists representing the next generation born of asylum-seekers: young articulate Muslim women who present a voice and a vision completely new to the field.  A showing of the work in development will be presented at the end of this process on March 14 2014.  

Australian Performance Exchange partners with Performance Space and Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre to develop the work, with support from the Australian Council, Campbelltown Arts Centre and Powerhouse Youth Theatre. 

Project details
In development 2014 for production 2015.

Collaborating Media Artist: pvi collective
Poets/Performers:  Jamal Al Hallaq , Nashaa Alrubaee, Osamah Sami
Musician: Mohamed Youssef
Video artist: Sean Bacon
Film artist/documenter: Zahra Alsamawi
Director: Sally Sussman
Dramaturge: Monica Wulff van der Haagen
Writer: Donna Abela
Creative Producer: Annemaree Dalziel