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Daydreamer Wolf

Daydreamer Wolf

Elyas Alavi

Opening 03.10.18 6-8pm
Artist Talks 25.10.18 6-7pm
Performance 03.10.18 6:30pm
Featuring  Bukhchuluun Ganburged (Bukhu) and Freya Schack-Arnott.

In Daydreamer Wolf I investigate issues of identity, memory, migration and displacement through the production and exhibition of new work involving painting, video projection, installation and performance collaborations across artforms (visual-art/music/poetry/performance). The project is a suite of visual art and verbal-musical performance works based on poems I have written since I immigrated to Australia, and are inspired by my experiences as a Hazara refugee. In my book of poems “I’m a Daydreamer Wolf” (2008), I lament on the absurdity of conflict, displacement, and their affective echoes, metaphorically creating a poetic identity, a displaced alter-ego, where I am the daydreamer, dreaming of hope, and the wolf, subject to his own difficult experience and identity.

The history of the Hazara people, to which I belong, is deeply troubled, involving ongoing ethnic genocide, persecution, mass migration and exile for over two centuries. An involved witness, in my own journeys, I have shared stories with exiled friends and siblings, listened to artist and writer friends forced to leave their homes and perilously journey to safety, sharing in their loss, always.

During and after my own journey from Afghanistan to Australia, I have gathered artefacts that belonged to victims of conflict from Afghanistan, clothes from asylum seekers fleeing to Europe (including my own family members) and from former detainees who spent months in mandatory offshore detention centres operated by the Australian Border Force. I have used these artefacts to create artworks, presenting direct material echoes from human being afflicted by conflict.

In Daydreamer Wolf, alongside new static and projected video works, installations featuring artworks created from such artefacts and inspired by the people they belonged to will invite the audience to experience what it can be like to be displaced, to live as a “refugee”. Having documented through still imagery and handheld video many of own journeys of return to my country of origin and places of exile, I have also acted as a voice for others who have experienced similar difficulties, of loss, displacement and separation from kin. The 113 figurative portraits on clear glass are intended to further metaphorically reflect the very human tragedy of displacement. These ghostly portraits will cast shadows on the wall, a second portrait, like an echo. They are there, and they are not. The number 113 is highly symbolic for the Shiite sect of Islam members, which my family belongs to. The widely held belief that one day a chosen 113 people will die and return to this earth to bring eternal peace, after which there will be no more war, no more injustice, infuses me with both a sense of beauty and tragedy, an irony where the hope of a better world contrasts with the seemingly naïve aspiration of accepting fate and giving one’s life over to destiny in the hope that maybe one of those 113 people will be me and I will be saved.

As an artist from the Middle-East, I naturally express part of my creativity through poetry, a pillar of Persian culture and identity. While my creative practice is multi-faceted, drawing both from literature (Persian poetry) and visual art (painting), it has expanded in recent years to include photography, video, installation, documentation and experimental performance which a focus on personal experiences as a Hazara refugee, migrant to Australia and member of the LGBTIQ community.

While I primarily see myself as a visual artist, infusing poetry into visual arts, performance and collaboration through the lens of identity, memory, violence, trauma and displacement provides me with the of revisiting my literary practice under a different light, a new creative language, as I seek to explore and ignite the same emotional and conceptual depth that poetry can possess through visual modes of communication such as painting, installation, video and performance. This project will be the first major opportunity to re-contextualise poetry within my visual art practice both personally and collaboratively, embedding it within a visual art framework through experimental work and continuing material and representative investigations.

The performance component of the project will involve a series of collaborative spoken-word, musical improvisations. In these, I invite experimental musicians from culturally diverse backgrounds (two local musicians in each city) to respond to my poetry as I recite and perform it, interacting with elements in the gallery. Surrounded by artefacts and artworks, the musicians will respond to my own physical interaction with the exhibition content. Combining pre-arranged segments, improvisation and some audience interaction, these new performances will present each audience with an entirely unique experience.

Read full exhibition essay here


Elyas Alavi is a multi-disciplinary visual artist based in Adelaide, South Australia. He is primarily working in the form of painting, installation, performance art and recently video art. Alavi was born in Daikundi province, Afghanistan, and moved to Iran as a child, following the intensification of war in his homeland and in late 2007 he moved to Australia as refugee at risk.

Elyas Alavi graduated from a Masters by Research (Visual Arts) in 2015 and a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) in 2012 at the University of South Australia and has exhibited nationally and internationally including Mohsen Gallery (Tehran), UTS Art (Sydney), Jugglers Art Space (Brisbane), IFA Gallery (Kabul), St Heliers Gallery (Melbourne), Nexus Arts, CACSA Project Space (Adelaide).

Alavi also is best known as an internationally renowned poet. He published 3 poetry books in Iran and Afghanistan. First poetry book "I'm a daydreamer wolf" published in 2008 in Tehran (5th edition in 2016), followed by "Some wounds" in 2012 in Kabul and "Hodood" in 2015 in Tehran.

Alavi visits many issues in his works, but mainly memory, migration, displacement, exile, gender issues, separation and the human nature. The main part of his work as an artist reflects upon his Hazara background (a marginalised ethnic group originally from Afghanistan) as he uses his particular experiences and contemplations as an epistemological model for the dislocation of peoples. This auto ethnographic approach offers a representative perspective for other displaced people and contributes to a deepening knowledge of the refugee and migration experience.

Alavi regularly runs art and poetry workshops in community centres and schools in Adelaide.

Daydreamer Wolf is a Next Wave x ACE Open and Firstdraft co-commission and has been assisted by Abbotsford Convent, Chapter House Lane and the Australian Government through Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body and Arts South Australia.

Earlier Event: September 5
Later Event: October 11
Art Education Panel