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Emerge Festival: Reer window - a Somali perspective
The City Weekly
Thursday, May 31, 2012
BY SINEAD STUBBINS
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When Aden Ibrahim began organising Reer-Guuraa, an exhibition of art inspired by the landscapes of Somalia, he encountered a very puzzling question.
A child with Somali parents politely asked him in apparent bewilderment, ‘‘Is there anyone who can paint in Somalia?’’.
“It sounded like a joke,” he says. “But all he saw about Somalia was war and guns. He thought there was no one who would be able to sit down and paint.”
Although he laughs when recounting the story, Ibrahim was concerned about the complete lack of positive representations of Somalia in Australia.
As a member of the Somali Cultural Association of Victoria, he began looking for ways to show a different side of his home country.
“If we just focused on the war happening in East Africa we’d never get anywhere,” he says. “Australia is our home now and we need to pick up the pace with the community here. It was basically to give some self esteem to the Somali people here.”
After organising a successful book fair in the State Library last year, in which 300 books by Somali writers were on show, Ibrahim decided to gather together artwork by Somali artists from Australia and abroad.
With help from Multicultural Arts Victoria, Reer-Guuraa (The Nomad), is set to appear this year as part of the 2012 Emerge Festival.
Works by artists Adam Jama Ganei and Abdiqadir Ahmed will be on display.
Apart from providing positive identification for his own community, Ibrahim is also enthusiastic about showing other Australians a side of Somalia they may never have seen. Already he is receiving emails from around Australia asking if the exhibition will travel, and teachers are asking if there is a limit to how many students they can bring.
“It was also to give the wider community some education about the Somali community – there’s 17,000 Somalis who live in Australia, especially Victoria, and still all we see are pictures of war and drought,” he says. “I just wanted to change that picture.”
Reer-Guuraa is on June 1 to 28 at the Fo Guang Yuan Art Gallery as part of Emerge Festival 2012. Visit multiculturalarts.com.au.
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