Artwork entitled 'Expectation', created in 2014 by Melbourne-based Iranian refugee, Mitra Ashanti. It is part of 'Attache Case', a collective artwork co-ordinated by Peter Burke in 2015. Mitra also created another artwork in this collection: 'Limbo' (HT56009.24).

Artist statement provided by Mitra in 2021:
'My name is Mitra Ashtiyani. I was born in Tehran in Iran. I studied science and marketing management, and art is one of my hobbies. I came to Australia in 2013. I love painting. My painting meaning are about my dream when the Australian Government kept us for long-term to consider our case my dream escaping like birds from the cage fly. That painting showing how was hard life when you waiting for hope and then because they did not care about me and people like me and all of my dream that I had in my brain gone like a birds flying and escaping from the cage.'

This collective artwork, entitled 'Attache Case' (HT56009), was created by Melbourne artist, curator and lecturer Peter Burke in 2015 as part of an international touring art installation, 'Low-Cost Diplomatic Bag', auspiced by the Spanish Embassy, and curated by Nilo Casares and ArtEx Madrid. It travelled to the Spanish Embassies in five countries, including Australia, in 2015-2016 (one venue included Immigration Museum, Melbourne). 'Attache Case' is comprised of a re-purposed doctor's medical case which opens to reveal small drawers containing 41 individuals' miniature artworks representing 21 refugees from Afghanistan, Vietnam, Poland, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Iran, Egypt and Iraq.

The artworks inside the case are acrylic and oil paintings and collage works on canvas board and copper. Many artworks have handwritten descriptions on paper by the artists on the reverse. The collection also includes a video about the project by César Espada produced in 2015.

Physical Description

Acrylic on canvas board. Human figure with a tree for a head with birds flying out into the sky.


'Attache Case' is a collective artwork created in 2015 in response to an invitation by artist, Peter Burke, to a number of asylum seekers and refugees in Melbourne to express their experience visually. The refugees and asylum seekers (some in detention at the time of the project) who produced the artworks came from diverse countries including Afghanistan, Vietnam, Poland, Hungary, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Iran, Egypt and Iraq. They explore diverse themes relating to detainment, immigration, border security policies, bureaucracy, and mental health.

The artists convey thoughts and feelings about freedom, opprtunities, life in Australia, resettlement, optimism, despair, grief, hope, fear and anger and the consequences of living in limbo. These refugee and asylum seeker's voices, concerns, and personal perspectives are not often publicly expressed and more often manipulated by media and politics or silenced in their community.

This complex artwork contains a diversity of cultures, genders, experiences, artistic styles, and responses. The oil and acrylic paintings are objects rich with symbolic meaning - both as a part of a luggage item reminiscent of the migrant experience, as well as a traveller's borderless container (representing migration, diplomacy, policy and bureaucracy) of voices that speak to the issues that are at the heart of the asylum seeker situation and debate.

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