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Immigration Museum reopens with two new exhibitions
Immigration Museum - Becoming You An incomplete guide. Photo: Museums Victoria.

MELBOURNE.- Melbourne’s Immigration Museum reopened to the public on Monday 16 November. The Immigration Museum continues to explore crucially significant themes of identity, community and belonging in its new major exhibition Becoming You: An incomplete guide accompanied by Atong Atem: To be real.

‘The Immigration Museum is delighted to welcome visitors back to our spaces and we’re thrilled to be reopening with Becoming You: An incomplete guide. The exhibition is reflective of the museum’s commitment to exploring the stories of our diverse communities,’ said Rohini Kappadath, General Manager, Immigration Museum.

‘Now more than ever, we are compelled to act as a place to connect and unite Victorians towards the social and cultural recovery of our great city.’

Following a call for public submissions last year, the new exhibition developed in-house by Museums Victoria, explores the surprising, real-life coming-of-age stories of 72 well-known and everyday Australians. These personal experiences traverse landscapes of time, gender, orientation, culture, age, and distance, reflecting the Immigration Museum's commitment to celebrating our shared humanity.

From first kisses to pushing the boundaries, the relatable real-life stories are being presented in unexpected and captivating environments, covering it all: the good, the bad, the embarrassing, the triumphant, the monumental and the seemingly mundane.

These personal stories have taken place in every decade since the 1940s, in schools and hospitals, kitchens and bedrooms, pubs and clubs, theatres and catwalks, cars and trams, playgrounds and streets.

Amongst the storytellers are performance artist and writer Adolfo Aranjuez, astrophysicist Alan Duffy, writer Alice Pung, model Andreja Pejic, artist Atong Atem, poet and critic Fiona Wright, climate activist Harriet O'Shea Carre, disability activist Jax Jacki Brown, AFL footballer Jason Johannisen, fashion designer Jenny Bannister, drag queen Karen from Finance, Gunnai-Gunditjmara Greens Senator for Victoria Lidia Thorpe, rapper Nathan Bird (Birdz), ballet dancer and actor Noel Tovey, comedian and writer Osamah Sami, documentary filmmaker Santilla Chingaipe, Lord Mayor of Melbourne Sally Capp and cross-cultural consultant Tasneem Chopra.

‘Navigating the journey from childhood to adulthood is an experience that is variously messy, emotional, often hilarious (in hindsight) and different for everyone. This exhibition will be full of relatable memories and will highlight that there is no one correct way to become an adult. I hope that it will leave visitors with a better understanding and acceptance of their past selves,’ said Kappadath.

In line with Victorian Government guidelines, Immigration Museum has implemented a range of health and safety measures to ensure our spaces are as safe and enjoyable as possible.

Becoming You: An incomplete guide opened alongside Atong Atem: To be real.

New photography commission by Atong Atem to open for PHOTO 2021
A new commission of large-scale photographic works by artist Atong Atem is on display at the Immigration Museum from Monday 16 November, as part of PHOTO 2021 International Festival of Photography.

Atem's new works draw visual details and concepts from science fiction, Afrofuturism, history, West African studio portraiture and mythology. They prompt viewers to consider how humans construct pictures and stories to understand ourselves and our surroundings.

The bold, dynamic works, featuring surreal portraits of Atem’s friends and family, fill the ground floor of the Immigration Museum with vibrant colour, pattern and life.

Atong Atem is an Ethiopian-born, South Sudanese artist and writer who lives in Melbourne. Her practice explores migrant narratives, postcolonial practices in the African diaspora, and themes of identity, mythology and fantasy.

Atem has a coming-of-age story featured within Becoming You: An incomplete guide. Her story about, at age 14, jumping onto some train tracks to save a dog from an oncoming train considers the impulsiveness of youth and the sense of responsibility to act of her oncoming maturity, alongside a contemplation about her own life and mortality.

Atong Atem
Atong Atem is an Ethiopian-born, South Sudanese artist and writer who lives in Naarm / Melbourne.

Atong’s photographic practice explores migrant narratives, postcolonial practices in the African diaspora, and concepts of identity, home and liminal space. Her portraiture references widely, from Malick Sidibe and Seydou Keita to science fiction writer Octavia Bulter. Atong was awarded the inaugural National Gallery of Victoria and MECCA M-Power scholarship in 2018 and the Brisbane Powerhouse Melt Portrait Prize.

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