Travelling lines, connecting threads

Migration requires courage and comes with great challenges. For many artists, it also brings new histories, cultural materials and artistic techniques with which to work.

As they weave these elements into their work, artists open dialogue between individuals, generations, communities and cultures – thus shifting our perspectives on issues faced around the world by displaced or dispersed people.

Mona Hatoum

Mona Hatoum Bukhara (red) 2007. Art Gallery of New South Wales, gift of Geoff and Vicki Ainsworth 2008. © Mona Hatoum. All rights reserved, DACS. Licensed by Copyright Agency (Photo: Jens Ziehe, Berlin. Courtesy White Cube)

Mona Hatoum, a Palestinian born in Lebanon and based in London, wears down the weave of a rug to offer a rescaled map of world power. Its title invokes Bukhara, an ancient city on the Silk Road trade route.

Mona Hatoum

Mona Hatoum Bukhara (red) 2007 (detail). Art Gallery of New South Wales, gift of Geoff and Vicki Ainsworth 2008. © Mona Hatoum. All rights reserved, DACS. Licensed by Copyright Agency (Photo: Jens Ziehe, Berlin. Courtesy White Cube)

Rubaba Haider

Rubaba Haider The spider’s touch, how exquisitely fine! Feels at each thread and lives along the line (Alexander Pope) V 2017. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Kathleen Buchanan May Bequest Fund 2018. © Rubaba Haider

Trained in Pakistan in the tradition of Persian miniatures, Melbourne-based artist Rubaba Haider uses ‘exquisitely fine’ brushwork to unveil the fragility of human connections.

Jumaadi

Jumaadi Halfway to the light, halfway through the night 2010-2014. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Mollie and Jim Gowing Bequest Fund 2017. © Jumaadi

Sydney-based Indonesian artist Jumaadi travelled with some of these drawings for more than four years, connecting memories, objects and encounters through the act of drawing.

Simryn Gill

Simryn Gill Roadkill 2000. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Contemporary Collection Benefactors 2001. © Simryn Gill

Bearing evidence of a damaged past, Gill’s cluster of improvised toy-like vehicles suggests mass movement or migration. What is their direction or destination?

Jitish Kallat

Jitish Kallat Public Notice 2 2007 (detail). Art Gallery of New South Wales, gift of Gene and Brian Sherman 2015. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. © Jitish Kallat

4479 bone-shaped sculptures spell out the compelling speech Gandhi gave in 1930 before beginning his walk to Dandi to protest the British Raj salt laws. To read the lines of Jitish Kallat’s work, you must walk with it, pondering Gandhi’s legacy of non-violent protest in the present.