Artist wants people to rethink immigration
The contentious topic of immigration is set to take an unusual form in Auckland’s Maritime Museum.
Social practice artist Tiffany Singh has crafted exhibition The Journey of a Million Miles - Following Steps, an installation which she hopes will challenge people’s thinking towards those with ‘‘refugee backgrounds’’ and immigrants in New Zealand.
Singh uses the term refugee backgrounds to encourage a shift in the language people place on some immigrants.
The Journey of a Million Miles was first displayed on Waiheke in January in partnership with the Auckland Resettled Community Coalition (ARCC).
The Waiheke installation, based on book Beyond Refuge - Stories of Resettlementt in Auckland, aimed to ’’humanise’’ the politicisation of immigration in New Zealand, Singh said.
The installation featured abandoned boats that were used as sound shells which contained audio readings of stories from Beyond Refuge. They were recorded by familiar Kiwi voices including broadcaster John Hawkesby.
Singh said using Kiwi accents was a way of making a point that immigrant voices in the book were in fact New Zealanders.
‘‘The dialogue was largely to counter the language and to really reposition the narrative around these people as New Zealanders,’’ Singh said.
‘‘It gives it a formality and when it’s said out of the voices of New Zealanders rather than people with accents, it has a weight to it.’’
The Mt Albert artist has had work featured internationally that explores cultural, spiritual and psychological ideas.
The Maritime Museum exhibition builds on the Waiheke display and will use music, audio and digital technology to express experiences people face when moving to a new land.
Singh, the daughter of an immigrant, said much of the conversation around migration today was based on statistics and money. ‘‘It’s very removed from the human element of the story.’’
‘‘I really wanted to invert that and provide a space that was more related to a human relationship so that rather than statistics and the numbers, [people] actually get a handle on who these people are.’’ The Journey of a Million Miles runs from March 18 at the New Zealand Maritime Museum.
Tiffany Singh wants to challenge peoples’ biases towards immigrants.