There is a common perception amongst parts of the Australian public that asylum seekers who arrive by boat are “queue jumpers” who forgo the “correct” procedure for entry into Australia. A 2011 report found that Australians are largely accepting of refugees as long as they have sought asylum through the “proper channels”. The view that boat arrivals are improper necessarily imagines that there is a just and orderly formal process for seeking asylum and a correct place overseas for refugees to wait for resettlement.
Wait Until Called is a participatory installation involving a room of patiently waiting refugees. The work overidentifies with the fantasy of a proper waiting process.
The work is also concerned with what Nina Power has described as the “weaponisation of time“: the way in which the state uses time, suspending people’s capacity to reach their potential, as a method of punishment. Wait until called aims to make the lengthy process and sanity-sapping limbo associated with seeking asylum manifest in the gallery.
This work was first presented on 28 and 29 August 2014 at Blindside Gallery as part of their Meet the Public Festival. It was also shown on August 1 and 2, 2015 at Underbelly Arts Festival on Cockatoo Island, Sydney.
The work was shortlisted for the 2014 Incinerator Art Award: Art for Social Change and awarded the People’s Choice Award.
An essay I wrote about the work can be read here:
Photos by Gabriel Clark, MrTomJones.com and Amy Spiers.