Saturday 9 October at 4pm
A dialogue with Elizabeth Ashburn, Alissar Chidiac & Vivienne Dadour
Elizabeth Ashburn: exhibition curator, is an Emeritus Professor at the University of New South Wales and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Newcastle. She curates and writes about art and politics. Her current artwork is in the form of miniatures that critique the invasion of Iraq.
Alissar Chidiac: co-curator, ‘Beirut to Baghdad: Communities, Collecting and Culture’, Powerhouse Museum. Alissar Chidiac has been involved in community and cultural development work for over 20 years. Her focus, since the early 1990s, is on Arab Australian culture.
Vivienne Dadour’s art and curatorial work looks at the issues of ethnic essentialism and cultural intolerance. In 1997 she curated ‘Sarajevo’ (Ivan Dougherty Gallery and tour) and her recent group exhibitions include ‘Contagion: Australian New Media Art & the Centenary of Federation’, New Zealand (2001) and ‘Borderpanic’, (Performance Space, Sydney, 2002).
Vivienne Dadour’s exhibition ‘Invisible Realm’ honours the generations of her family who, in the late nineteenth century, settled in an area of Redfern and Waterloo known as the ‘Syrian Quarter’. The fragments of social life we see — street scenes, family celebrations, hospitality to visitors — are of a hybrid Arabic/English place in the colonial culture. Dadour contrasts intimate and inclusive gestures from family photos with the brutal self-interest articulated in the White Australia Policy and its race-based parallels a century later: ‘patriot’ legislation, the endless ‘war on terror’ and denial of human rights.