Digital colour photograph of Melbourne-based Iranian refugee, Tohid Sahebi Kouchaksaraei (Rayka) taken by Rayka in Melbourne in 2020. Rayka is part of a collective artwork 'Attache Case' co-ordinated by Peter Burke in 2015. Rayka created two artworks in this collection: 'Life and nothing more (1)' (HT 56009.37) and 'Life and nothing more (2)' (HT 56009.38).

Artist statement provided by Rayka in 2021: 'I am Rayka, from earth, born in the 1980s, somewhere in the middle east where there is a lot of oil. I am now living in Melbourne. In this statement I don't think I need to tell you how cruel is the Australian Government's policy against refugees. In detention, refugees are usually called by a number instead of their name: they want to crack you in some way. Reza Barati and Hamid Khazaei are only two of the asylum seekers who have become victims of this cruel policy. They died in 2014. In my two artworks I tried to say don't forget these two and many others who were killed by neglect and horrific acts in detention. If you don't know how these two died, just simply do a Google search and you will learn a lot about Australia's cruel policies toward refugees.'

The 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 paintings representing 21 refugees from Afghanistan, Vietnam, Poland, Hungary, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Iran, Egypt and Iraq.

Description of Content

Man wearing black shirt and jeans seated on a rock overlooking a beach.

Physical Description

Digital-born photograph supplied in digital form by the donor.


'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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