|ALEX & I|
|Alex & I is an ongoing research project and collaboration concerned with the narrative, media history and current circumstances of refugee and media figure Sanjeev ‘Alex’ Kuhendrarajah. Its various outcomes include texts, videos, songs, performance-lectures, a postcard campaign and numerous discursive events.|
|ALEX & I: Against Indifference|
|Text and photo essay|
Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Journal, vol.8, no. 1, 2016
|ALEX & I: Moving Pictures|
Presentations to date: Poetikum, Berlin, 2013; Displacements: Forced Migration and the Arts, Aarhus University, Denmark, 2013; The Reading Room, Bangkok, 2013; SEAM13, Critical Path, Sydney, 2013; Transforming Cultures Seminar Series, University of Technology Sydney, 2014; Indian Ocean Futures Conference, Fremantle, Western Australia 2014; Performing Resistance, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, 2014; Postcolonial Justice Conference, University of Potsdam, 2014; Nanyang Technological University Singapore, 2014.
|* Given the significant changes in Alex’s circumstances in May 2015 I will no longer be delivering this lecture, which is now archived as a video essay, above. A version of the lecture script is provided here [PDF].|
|ALEX & I: In proximity to the Other of politics|
Law Text Culture: Re-orienting Hospitality, Re-orienting Law.
Vol. 17, 2013, 129–142.
Guest editors: Anne Cranny-Francies and Elaine Kelly.
For a brief period of time Sanjeev 'Alex' Kuhendrarajah gained international notoriety as the self-styled spokesperson for 254 Sri Lankan Tamils who refused to disembark from a small wooden cargo boat, KM Jeya Lestari 5, docked off the Indonesian port of Merak from October 2009. The boat, which was detected by Australian authorities while floundering in international waters off the Sunda Strait, was intercepted by the Indonesian navy at the request of the then Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd. The charismatic asylum seeker, who introduced himself as Alex at a dockside press conference, quickly became a favourite with journalists for his command of English and his 'raw and defiant' manner.
|Songs for Sanjeev|
and Sanjeev ‘Alex’ Kuhendrarajah|
with Ben Connor, Matthew Phillip Hopkins and Danny Venzin.
Installation/collaborative process: US visa waiver, digital photographic print, songs.
Included in the group exhibition Oddfellows curated by Iakovos Amperidis at Gallery VV (55 Sydenham Road), Sydney
Over the last year my I have come to study the process of migration of the refugee Sanjeev ‘Alex’ Kuhendrarajah. For a brief period of time Sanjeev was internationally reknown as a spokesperson for 255 Tamil asylum-seekers caught in a stand-off with Indonesian authorities at the port of Merak following the conclusion of the civil war in Sri Lanka, 2009. When I began this course of research I understood Sanjeev as a minor historical character, public figure and media construction.
In 2013 I was able to visit him in Thailand where he is being detained indefinitely. By initiating this rapport, I implicated myself in Sanjeev’s appeal for re-settlement; forging a ‘friendship’ that I interrogate on a personal, political and artistic plane. I consider how the politics that Sanjeev’s movements produce might, in turn, produce a movement-of-politics in art and academic contexts.
In Songs for Sanjeev (2013) I asked gallery patrons and peers to co-write songs based on a dense document that constitutes Sanjeev’s application for resettlement. The recorded results of this songwriting process are to be delivered to the asylum seeker on disc.
In an associated workgroup, A Dream of Sanjeev: A Political Science Fiction (2013), I re-presented Sanjeev’s narrative to the public to prompt a discussion on the relationship between labour, migration and (artistic) production with reference to local artist communities. Through the prism of historical painting, we attempted to think out aloud about current arrangements of labour, finance and capital. These discussions will inform further processes of reflection, research and articulation, of which Sanjeev is both a co-producer and a specific audience.
|A Dream of Sanjeev: A political science fiction (workgroup)|
|Wish you were here...|
Runway #24 Islands (2014)