Bamiyarra Not So Still

Poetry links Hazara, considered the most persecuted ethnic minority in Afghanistan, to their culture, their history, to country, to each other. In former times revered verses, or quatrains, were shared from one generation to the next. Hazara’s of today are more than likely to text their poems to each other, as did Aziz Fayaz, when he wrote the poem featured in this installation, a response to the many Hazara who had lost their lives, desperate to seek asylum from persecution, on boats that had sunk in the worlds oceans.

Bamiyarra was a Home Lands v2 project, a collaboration with City of Melbourne, the Cultural Development Network, Swinburne and LaTrobe Universities.

Bamiyarra at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre

Creative Producer Andrew Garton launches Bamiyarra Not So Still(s) at CPAC
“An installation produced by Andrew Garton is featured in Landlock, an inspiring exhibition at Casula Powerhouse.” Liverpool Leader, 10 April 2013 (Picture: Tim Clapin)

From 30 March to 12 May 2013 Bamiyarra Not So Still(s) was exhibited as part of LANDLOCK, a group exhibition at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre (CPAC), south-western Sydney.

Landlock explores a parallel relationship between Afghanistan and Australia: one is geographically defined by surrounding land mass; the other, completely surrounded by sea. The exhibition aims to highlight that such differences have produced a shared dialogue about the political, social and physical environment occurring between the two regions.

Creative Producer Andrew Garton, who had conceived of the media arts program that resulted in this exhibition, coordinated the install of our work and talked Bamiyarra at CPAC to gallery visitors and other artists. Special thanks to Khaled Sabsabi, Adam Porter, Semi Ozacardi and CPAC exhibition staff who supported our project and assisted in the install of Bamiyarra Not So Still(s).

Visit the Landlock page at CPAC for more information.

Micro-doc: A Hazaragi Wedding

Hazaragi culture is no where more accentuated than in a traditional wedding. Bringing together every facet of cultural life, from traditional music, clothing, food and ritual. A Hazaragi Weddingtraces the events leading up to and throughout the wedding ceremony. A Hazaragi Wedding is underscored by traditional music, a collage of wedding photos and video, and of course the food, the celebration, mehmanies (public feasts) and dance.

Micro-doc: Between The Lines

The cultural history of Afghanistan’s most persecuted minority is one interwoven with the arts, from the Persian poetry they learn as children to reverence for the Buddhas of Bamiyan, monolithic sculptures their ancestors created in the 5th Century and destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. To bring these practices into modern times, Hazara artist, Fazil Hussain Mousavi, founded The Sketch Club in Quetta, to introduce young Hazara to the skills, techniques and history of painting.

The micro-doc, Between The Lines, follows the story of The Sketch Club from Quetta to the Artful Dodgers Gallery in Collingwood, where its first exhibition in Australia is hosted. Between The Lines is a story of young Hazara depicting the social circumstances of their country, the genocide of Hazara people and how their new found skills and art has helped them to express the complex issues of injustice and uncertainty, that has also connected them to and inspired Hazara youth who have sought asylum the world over.

Bamiyarra On Screen

Bamiyarra On Screen is the international premier screening of a short-docs series produced by young Hazara in Melbourne and Kabul in collaboration with Melbourne film-makers and media artists. Meet the film-makers, the producers and participate in a Q & A about the series and the media arts program these documentaries grew from.

When: 7pm, Wed 17 October, 2012
Where: ACMI, Federation Square Flinders St, Melbourne
Full: $12
Concession: $10

Bamiyarra On Screen was produced in association with Youthworx Media, Multicultural Arts Victoria, Mechid TV with the assistance of EngageMedia. Bamiyarra would also like to acknowledge the support of Wind & Sky Productions for dubbing services.

Purchase tickets online at ACMI or at the box-office.


Migration / Duration: 09:07

Migration is the story of a Hazara family that sought refuge in Australia, how the open sea both carried them here and afforded one of their sons a future in the surf.

A Hazaragi Wedding: 06:50

A Hazaragi Wedding

A Hazaragi Wedding, incorporating family videos and memorabilia, traces the events leading up to and throughout a traditional wedding ceremony.

Hope In Life / Duration: 12:17

Hope In Life follows the aspirations of Hazara who sought asylum in Australia to pursue their education and arts practice, and how their ties to home land influences and sustain them regardless of the challenges they face.

Between The Lines / Duration: 14:00

Between The Lines

Between The Lines follows the story of the Pakistan based Sketch Club to a gallery in Collingwood, Melbourne, where its first exhibition in Australia was hosted.

Q & A / Duration: 20 – 30 mins

Hosted panel with film-makers, producer and researchers.

Bamiyarra is a Home Lands v2 project – a media arts initiative connecting young Hazara from refugee backgrounds to their home lands and separated communities.

Home Lands v2 is a collaboration between La Trobe University, Swinburne University of Technology, City of Melbourne and the Cultural Development Network. Home Lands is funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant, City of Melbourne and the Cultural Development Network.

Exhibition launch


Bamiyarra Not So Still(s) was launched on 3 August 2012 at Signal. We estimated around 120 people turned up to celebrate the culmination of year’s work with two teams of young Hazara working in Melbourne and Kabul. Special guests included Councillor Ken Ong and author Najaf Mazari.

Here’s a few snaps from the install of the exhibition and its subsequent launch.

Here’s a comprehensive selection of stills from our project on Flickr.

A poem at the heart of Bamiyarra

Poems are invaluable to the Hazara. Many young are taught a number of quatrains when young and carry the tradition of re-telling them into their elder years. Some, like Aziz Fayaz, are prolific poets. This, one of Aziz’s poems, a Hazara based in Kabul, has become increasingly important to Bamiyarra and is featured in the Not So Still(s) exhibition.

Consume me FISH! All my body parts
I am country-less, homeless and I have no one.

I have no heart, it is left behind
Consume my limbs that are remaining

Gave my heart to this world, what has it done?
Entered the sea, what has it done?

Grief took my livelihood away
Generosity of the sea took half of my life away.

My shovel and tools are left behind
Yet my foot-prints evoke memories of me.

Oh sea! Hear my heartache
You do not have a heart to feel my pain.

There is no one to wish me farewell
There is no eye awaiting my return.

Consume parts of my body
My eyes, ears, kidneys and head.

My child will live with my memories
In my absence, he will find comfort in them.

Worry not sea, long live your creatures
Long live the rocks and stones that have replaced my heart.

Visible are the reptile bite-marks on my body
Shattered are my life long hopes and dreams.

This is what happened, when I gave my heart to the sea
Look at me and my lifeless body.

No more is there, life in my body
No more are there, tears in my eyes.

By Aziz Fayaz