Tim Bauer and Liz Deep-Jones: We Bleed the Same. Research School of Social Sciences, ANU. Until October 2022. anu.edu.au.
Reporting on conflicts, acclaimed journalist Liz Deep-Jones was disturbed that they unfolded in the name of religion or racism. Inspired by the community-led, grassroots initiative Racism Not Welcome, Deep-Jones joined forces with portrait photographer Tim Bauer to present this exhibition, We Bleed The Same.
Deep-Jones grew up in a Lebanese, Arabic-speaking household trying to figure out how she belonged in Australian society where she experienced bigotry. She says the exhibition is "about you, me, humanity!". Bauer is the child of a refugee European father and an Australian mother who taught him to love and respect all human beings.
Thirty-nine women and men from varied backgrounds, religion and race feature in Bauer's images. And in a documentary film by Deep-Jones, they share personal and emotional stories about their diverse cultures and experiences with dangerous and demoralising racism. Like them, we should all be seeking to defeat racism.
As he is a pre-eminent Australian portrait photographer, it is no surprise that Bauer's diverse images here are simply superb. The people he has wonderfully portrayed include former Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane, First Nations Elder Leetona Dungay (whose son David died in custody) and refugee Marcella Kaspar.
Lovemore N'dou, one of the other incredible people featured, had a successful early career in boxing but, because of South Africa's apartheid policies, was not allowed to compete internationally. He migrated to Australia and continued his boxing career before becoming a lawyer.
There is Australian-born Uyghur woman Subhi Bora, Indigenous Torres Strait Islander author and union official Thomas Mayor, and Filipino migrant Brenda Gaddi. Also included are South Sudanese refugee Deng Adut, proud Australian Muslim woman Maryam El-Kiki, and human rights advocate and refugee activist Thanush Selvarasa.
Accompanying the Bauer portraits are the subjects' deeply personal stories in words assembled by Deep-Jones - explaining who they are, what their personal racism experiences have been, and how they are involved with seeking to combat bigotry. Those words take the already powerful images even further - they are profoundly moving. It is highly probable that studying the images and reading the words will make most viewers quite emotional.
From Mayor, we learn, "Indigenous people experience racism in this country every day. Racism makes me feel less than human, insignificant, like I'm not even there but we need to stand up and be proud of who we are. We are on our country and that can't be ignored."
The exhibition also features various installations - including the interactive Kizuna (Japanese - meaning ties or bonds) in which family photographs submitted by the local community are being hung from a red Hills Hoist using red strings. The threads of photos represent the connectedness between Australians while reflecting our diversity. Deep-Jones hopes the exhibition will convey that message and spark visitors into ongoing conversations about racism in Australia.
Another installation is vials of fake red blood, each labelled with a name of a portrait subject and, so, symbolising them and shouting, "We Bleed The Same".
There are opportunities for visitors to share their personal experiences of, and views about, racism by writing in red alongside images of a blood-soaked arm. And a Cedar Tree of Lebanon installation, inspired by Deep-Jones' family roots, seeks to touch our souls and ignite our hearts to inspire positive action for humanity.
I urge everyone who can to see this important presentation.
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