Belongings brings stories of displacement and hope to life in an interactive installation.

For many in the developed world, life can be consumed with material objects. Our possessions inadvertently become everything to us. We accumulate stuff that embodies who we are or what we care about. But what if you had to flee your homeland forever? What’s the one item you couldn’t live without?

The people in this immersive installation were faced with that very decision. For one participant, their belonging is a memory eternally locked inside a purse; for another, it’s a necklace with protective powers; and for a third, the scent of a beloved family member left behind is soaked into cloth. Behind each personal belonging is a larger story of those who seek asylum in Australia. Their possessions are imbued with the spirit of ancestry, family, home, and belonging.

Created by SBS’ Digital Creative Labs and using technology developed by Google’s Creative Lab, Belongings shares tales of displacement, resilience and hope spanning decades of migration, diverse cultures and stages of life. The work was created through community storytelling workshops where participants were invited to bring an object they fled with.

The outcome is an uncut story recorded in one take that reflects the complex journeys those seeking asylum in Australia continue to face when their time in their homeland is cut short.

Participants:

Lizzy Samba was born in Papua New Guinea and now lives in Sydney. She is a trans activist and has been an advocate in the areas of education and health across the Asia Pacific region. She is currently furthering her studies so that she can resume her vocation as a health care worker.

Sabina Krusevljanin was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She arrived in Australia as a refugee in 1995. Sabina is a passionate supporter of refugees in Australia and globally. For over 20 years she has worked in customer services. She also supports visitors from all walks of life at the Art Gallery of NSW and Sydney Living Museums.Reza is a poet, journalist and a writer. Starting his career as a journalist whilst at university, he later worked for national and international news media organisations.

Reza has authored three books on poetry and a non-fiction book 1971: War Crimes and the Reality of the Trial. He has translated Richard Bach’s There’s No Such Place as Far Away in Bengali, and has been published in a book of poetry with 11 other Bengali poets.

Parastoo Bahrami has always wanted to share her story to inspire other people seeking asylum and refugees. She is an Afghan woman who has dreams to make a difference in the lives of others through her craft of beading. Parastoo hopes to start a creative enterprise that can support her into the future, as well as make beautiful objects to light up a room.

Damon Amb studied photography in Iran and became an accomplished artist. Growing up in Iran allowed Damon to explore the street life from a photographer’s perspective. Damon arrived in Australia in 2013. He has had his work exhibited in art galleries and participated in art projects over the last five years.

Amou Job is from South Sudan and has been a community worker in Sydney engaging families, women and children in capacity-building programs across the Western suburbs. Amou is also a writer and shares South Sudanese traditions that engage the next generation in the way that stories have sustained his community across generations.