A Boat Called the Janga 1g - Destroyed before our eyes


‘Before our eyes’

A boat is sinking. Three people balance on top of or cling to the section that remains above the surface. Waves crash around them.

[imagecaption] Vigil, 2017, video still. Artist: Tracey Moffatt. [/imagecaption]


As the Janga broke up in the churning seas early that morning, horrified residents watched from the cliffs above, powerless to intervene. This is the first asylum seeker boat to have been destroyed before the eyes of Australians on shore. Thousands of others watched the footage later on television.  Among them was the artist Tracey Moffatt who used the images as a  central motif in her artwork for the Australian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in  2017.

Moffatt’s short film, Vigil, which draws on footage of the Janga, is part of a larger work, My Horizon, a complex meditation on Australia’s temporal and spatial borders and the stories of Indigenous families broken up and displaced, dispersed from their country as their borders are overrun by war and their children are forcibly separated from their mothers. Through images of the Janga, My Horizon connects today’s global displacement of peoples with the histories of Indigenous Australians made refugees in their own land.



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