The Perfect Migrant

The Perfect Migrant

Dunera, history, and art and design buffs have an exciting new exhibition at Clayton to explore.

The Perfect Migrant, explores the different ways forced migration to Australia impacted refugees and their families. The exhibition shares the journey of internees from the HMT Dunera and HMS Queen Mary ships during World War II in 1940, and highlights the work of contemporary Australian refugee artists.

The Perfect Migrant was made possible by a collaboration with the Library, Monash Art, Design and Architecture, Dr Seumas Spark and the Dunera Lives project in the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies.

Drawing its inspiration from the artworks of visual artist and sculptor Erwin Fabian (1915-2020), The Perfect Migrant explores his creative and emotional response to forced migration. The artworks reflect his personal experience as an enemy alien shipped from the United Kingdom to Australia in 1940 on the HMT Dunera, his internment in Tatura, his life as a new migrant, and his responses to images of the men, women, and children incarcerated on Manus Island and Nauru.

The exhibition

Five Master of Design students, specialising in multimedia and interaction, created conceptual designs as part of their final-year project. Due to the pandemic, the students weren't able to build and create the digital elements; instead, they created proof of concept work which Library staff used as inspiration to build digital elements of the exhibition with animation and sound bringing the art to life.

Visitors can examine the ways incarceration and forced migration impacted the refugees and their families through:

  • moving audio installations - hear poetry written by a Dunera internee
  • creative projected animations - watch as the art comes to life before your eyes
  • thought-provoking film work - listen to the experience of Dunera and Queen Mary internees firsthand from those who lived through it, and those who knew them
  • the artwork of contemporary Australian refugees - see new and upcoming artists.

The exhibition curator, Dr Anne Holloway, said ”In a time when Australia’s borders are shut and an increasing number of people are displaced around the world, it is important to engage with the humanity of refugees, past and present. Connecting an earlier generation of detainees to current refugees such as Farhad Bandesh and Miream Salameh, the exhibition explores the pain and isolation of detainment, loss of homelands and family. It also reminds us of the adaptive capacity of people to rebuild their lives and start new journeys when given a chance.”

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