Against Erasure: Digital Witnessing of Manus Island Detention Centre

Still from the video ‘Remain’ filmed on Manus Island. Picture: Hoda Afshar
Still from the video ‘Remain’ filmed on Manus Island. Picture: Hoda Afshar


Overview

This project is developing a digital representation of dismantled immigration detention centre at Lombrom, Manus Island, Papua New Guinea (PNG), for completion November 2020. Importantly, this will be the first known 3D model of the detention centre, making a significant contribution to collective knowledge about the facility and the island on which it was based. The centre was effectively a prison for approximately 1500 men from 2013 until 2017. In 2016, the PNG Supreme Court ordered it to be ‘closed,’ as its existence breached the PNG constitution. The detention camp was dismantled, as if it had never existed. Yet twelve men had died there due to violence, homicide, self-harm, suicide or untreated medical concerns. Many experienced pain and torture during their detainment. The work will function as a testament to these men, and a testimony of their suffering. It will examine the processes enabling erasure, as if the violence that occurred there never happened.

Outcomes / activities

Agonistes exhibition, with artist Hoda Afshar
Commissioned by Photo Australia from PHOTO 2021 International Festival of Photography

Agonistes is based on the experiences of several men and women – former employees in the areas of immigration, intelligence service, defence force, youth detention, disability care, and other government agencies – who chose to speak out [against alleged wrongdoing or misconduct in detention centres], and who now live with the consequences.

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More information

Project details

Research partners

Dr Una McIlvenna (School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne)
Mahnaz Alimardanian (PiiR Consulting)
Behrouz Boochani (University of Canterbury, New Zealand)
Professor Uma Kothari (School of Geography, University of Melbourne)
Dr James Parker (Institute for International Law and the Humanities, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne)
Dr Jordy Silverstein (School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne)
Joel Stern (Liquid Architecture)

Project team

Dr Claire Loughnan

Contact

Dr Claire Loughnan