Digital colour photograph of Melbourne-based Iranian refugee, Zohreh Izadikia, taken by photographer Kazem Elyasi Hacheso, in Melbourne in 2019. Zohreh is part of a collective artwork 'Attache Case' co-ordinated by Peter Burke in 2015. Zohreh created three artworks in this collection: 'Dichotomy' (HT56009.31), 'Broken' (HT56009.32), and 'Hesitance' (HT56009.33).

Artist statement provided by Zohreh in 2021: 'Zohreh Izadikia hails from Tehran, Iran, arriving in Australia by boat in 2013. Being an artist in Iran meant Zohreh wanted to work outside the frames set by the Government, challenging the status quo. This, combined with her choice to not to wear the hijab, caused many problems for her in her everyday life. Zohreh studied translation at university and became a flight attendant for Iran Air, where she worked for seven years. Zohreh presented an exhibition that showed the female nude, infuriating the government and forcing her to flee Iran for her safety. Zohreh lived in detention for 18 months in Australia. To pass the time and keep her happy, she would paint colourful murals on the walls inside the detention centre. Zohreh states that "painting makes me feel great. It is everything for me. In my paintings I tried to show the conflict we have to cope within our everyday life; the conflict in traditional and modern life, the conflict of being from a third world country and living in a developed country, the conflict in our characters, in our choices we make, in our attitudes!"'

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, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Iran, Egypt and Iraq.

Description of Content

Half portrait image of woman wearing white scarf and standing against artwork of a tree with multicoloured background.

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, 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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