Little has changed since the 2016 leak of the Nauru Files, which detail 2116 incident reports of assault, sexual and child abuse, self-harm and horrible living conditions suffered by asylum seekers on Nauru, one of Australia's offshore refugee detention centres.
With the centre continuing to operate regardless, 32 award-winning artists have teamed up to create All We Can't See: Illustrating the Nauru Files, which will show at Fortyfivedownstairs Gallery from Tuesday, July 31 through Saturday, August 10. The exhibition illustrates the suffering of detainees through creative expression, with each artist having chosen a specific Nauru file to interpret.
The exhibition's renowned Australian artists include painter Ben Quilty, 2017 Bvlgari Art Award recipient Tomislav Nikolic, Tim Maguire, Sulman Prize winner Aida Tomescu, and multi-discipline artist Belinda Fox. Since the show first debuted in Sydney earlier this year, many more leading artists — including Julian Meagher, Khaled Sabsabi, and Stanislava Pinchuk — have joined.
Members of the public, including school children, have also illustrated files, which can be viewed on the All We Can't See website.
Three free events will also run alongside the event, including free panel discussion on Thursday, August 2. The first will be moderated by Daniel Webb from Human Rights Law Centre and include discussions with Gillian Triggs, the former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission. On Friday, August 3, there will also be free screening of Watan, a documentary that explores the human cost of the Syrian refugee crisis.
Finally, on Tuesday, August 7, there'll be a conversation between artist Hoda Afshar, who visited to Manus Island earlier this year, and poet Behrouz Boochani, a current detainee who will join via Skype.
With a complete lack of media access to the island, the artists hopes to raise greater awareness through their art in this sure to be powerful exhibition. Artworks at the exhibition will also be for sale, with all proceeds going to the Human Rights Law Centre.
Image: Work by Pia Johnson and Janet Laurence