This exhibition of new work by Raafat Ishak stems from a project that began in 2006, when the artist sent a standardised letter to one hundred and ninety four governments requesting citizenship, and received ninety seven replies. These responses included formal letters outlining immigration procedures, friendly and welcoming replies encouraging immediate action, along with suspicious responses demanding contact details and further explanations.
The result of this project is an exhibition of one hundred and ninety four paintings, each depicting a country’s flag in a mutation of its true colour, juxtaposed with an abbreviated Arabic transcript of that government’s response (or lack of response) to Ishak’s request for citizenship. In each painting, the artist aims to highlight the abstract, distinctive nature of flags, whilst maintaining an objective stance towards statehood and the implications of homeland.
Alphabetically installed according to the government represented, the series of flag paintings will begin at Sutton Gallery’s south wall and continue on to the Project Space in Young Street. An additional, three-dimensional work will further accentuate the exhibition’s overarching concern with notions of citizenship.
Forming an investigation into global immigration laws and trends, Responses to an immigration request from one hundred and ninety four governments aims to speculate on the nature of human movement in contemporary culture, whilst analysing the mechanisms which facilitate or hinder one’s need to move.
The exhibition is Ishak’s third solo exhibition with Sutton Gallery. In November 2009, the artist will be included in Cubism and Australian Art at Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, and in The 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art at Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane. In May 2010, a solo exhibition of the artist’s work, Raafat Ishak: Work in Progress #6, will be held at the Ian Potter Museum of Art,
The University of Melbourne.