John Curtin Gallery’s new exhibition features Hollywood stars to highlight the plight of the refugee

Chris Malcolm (Director, John Curtin Gallery) with work by Candice Breitz at the John Curtin Gallery. Picture: David Baylis
Chris Malcolm (Director, John Curtin Gallery) with work by Candice Breitz at the John Curtin Gallery. Picture: David Baylis

WHAT do Alec Baldwin, Julianne Moore and the Danish city of Aarhus have in common?

All three of them are featured in the John Curtin Gallery’s latest exhibition, featuring video installations from a pair of acclaimed audio-visual artists to highlight the plight of refugees.

Refuge is a collaborative movie experience from South African artist Candice Breitz and Australian-born artist Angelica Mesiti which presents an emotional first-hand look at the lives of different refugees.

Breitz’s short film series Love Story features Hollywood stars Baldwin and Moore telling the story of six different refugees from different countries.

The Hollywood stars’ narrations are juxtaposed with rawer and less dramatised first-hand recounts from the refugees themselves, showing how the same stories are communicated in different ways.

Mesiti’s Mother Tongue follows a group of diverse communities currently residing in Aarhus, Denmark and how their music tells the tale of their displacement from their homelands.

Featuring dream-like surrealism, the movie emphasizes the role of music in defining and retaining cultural identity and tradition.

Exhibition curator Chris Malcolm said both works urged the need for more aid for the 25.4 million refugees worldwide.

“The forced migration of people from developing countries as a result of violence, conflict and climate-related extreme events, is often presented in an unpalatable way through polarising political rhetoric and scare-mongering,” he said.

Refuge depicts the human reality of these issues through the persuasive medium of cinema, bringing to life the plight of people forced to flee their homelands and make new lives in often strange and inhospitable lands.”

The exhibition runs until April 18 in conjunction with the Perth Festival.