On display at the Queen Victoria Museum, Inveresk from 13 March to 19 May 2021.
Looking for Paradise looks at past and present policies that different governments instigated to help or deny entry to people in need of a ‘Safe Heaven’. This project is a reminder of Australia’s responsibility as a first signatory of the United Nation Human Rights Charter.
Over 12 handmade and bound books, Nathalie Hartog-Gautier brings the stories of the migrants, often relegated to the margin of society, to the centre of the page. In parallel to the fate of many refugees, drawings of the Australian bush and botanical specimens are referencing the First Nation people often equally displaced. The books are presented in a barbwire cage alluding to the restrictive movements imposed on refugees.
By gathering designs and motifs across the 12 books that compile Gautier-Hartog’s work, production company Broken Yellow were able to construct small worlds that explore persistent themes in the work; the notion of Australia as paradise, the pursuit of this paradise, and the inexplicable impact Australia’s immigration policies throughout the years have had on those undertaking this pursuit. The reading of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is by real people seeking asylum, and made with the assistance of the Asylum Seekers Centre. Their voices humanise the story told by the imagery, further highlighting Australia’s responsibility as a first signatory of the United Nations Human Rights Charter.
This project has also been done in collaboration with Marta Sengers for developing the online presence of the 12 books.
Looking for Paradise is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW, NAVA Benevolent Fund and Members of the Asylum Seekers Centre community.