Walking the line
The endless arrival
in Translations, an autoethnography
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Migrants live ‘in flight’, inhabiting the in-between of dialogue where sense never settles down but is continually reconfigured. In this sense, migrants do not ‘arrive’; their destiny is to live in the mid-stride of always arriving. Canetti alludes to this fate when he characterises migrants as walking in single file. In this chapter I discuss some high-profile commissions that have used this mise-en-scène critically and creatively to articulate a new, distinctively migrant identity. Works like Lost Subjects and Light recall the public performances of the medieval Miracle Play. The remarkable installation, Raft, based on anthropologist T.G.H. Strehlow’s memoir of his father, Journey to Horseshoe Bend, forges (literally) a craft of translation where the ‘destination’ is incorporated into the work of passage. An effect of these and related dramaturgical engagements, including the dance works Jadi Jadian and Old Wives’ Tales, is to unravel the ‘line’ into its constituent threads and, as the Sydney Olympics commission, Relay, illustrates, have the single file fan out to produce a new, distinctively migrant crowd of voices, connected, turbulent, different.

Translations, an autoethnography

Migration, colonial Australia and the creative encounter

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