Raafat Ishak

"A formal request to immigrate was sent to 194 governments, 97 of whom provided a response, varying from congratulatory notes to outright suspicious interrogations of motive. What was evident, was that inherent laws and regulations, particular to each state, were in fact a conglomeration of sameness: race, language and religion, as well as economic and professional qualifications were key criteria. Unsurprisingly, 97 states chose not to respond at all.

Responses to an immigration request from one hundred and ninety four governments (2006–09) constitutes 194 painted panels, depicting the faded flag of each state superimposed with a summary of each response, or no response, in stylised and phonetic Arabic text. What on the surface seems like an unprecedented opportunity to reclaim the world by self and citizen is obstructed by an inherent lack of freedom, in particular the freedom to cross borders and migrate from one distinct place to another. This work constitutes a polemic veneration towards otherness whilst engaging in a reconsideration of self and citizen as a contrivance of nation states mired in economic, social, political and historical relevance."

Raafat Ishak was born in Cairo in 1967 and emigrated to live and work in Melbourne, Australia in 1982. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions, and recent solo shows include Raafat Ishak: Work in Progress at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne. His work is held in important public and private collections including the National Gallery of Victoria, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne, RACV, Melbourne and the State Government of Victoria. Raafat Ishak lives and works in Melbourne, Australia, and is represented by Sutton Gallery, Melbourne.

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