Exhibition dates | 21.09.2013 - 06.10.2013
An exhibition of works by Muhammed Mustafa Syed, Refugee Activist and since the beginning a supporter of the Vienna Refugee Protest Movement.
Opening hours: Tue–Sun 10.00–18.00 h, free entrance
The works of Muhammed Mustafa Syeds pick out in depth the question of the positioning of the individual as a central theme. The photo series Portraits forms the center of the exhibition. It shows the Refugees of the Vienna Refugee Protest Movement during their protest at the Votiv church*. In these single portraits, the protagonists sit on a chair, dressed in in cap and scarf and warm winter clothing and they look directly into the camera. In the background you see pews (church benches) and church windows - they are sitting inside the cold Votiv church, it seems. Only a closer look reveals the different shooting axis of background and foreground and the artificial light conditions become visible.
Syed had photographed the protagonists in front of a Blue-Screen-background and inserted them afterwards with digital image editing inside the Votiv church. The strategy of "cutting out" the body of the Refugees from their real environment (Votiv church); and the artificial pasting inside the same place later - , which was photographed by the artist at another time, opens impressively a space for the reflection where questions of positioning of the individual, mobility and dependency are debated.
Being forced to give up a place, being forced to search for a new, the experience of being allocated to a place (e.g. into the camps for asylum seekers), the effort to position oneself, to take a place in order to survive, these are every day experiences of the Refugees.
The virtuality of the surrounding space of the photographed persons, the Votiv church, creates an uncomfortable feeling; an unsettledness is spreading out from it. The space can be erased or changed digitally every minute. Then, the Refugees would be sitting in a bare non-space, at no place - or maybe at a place, which welcome them, a place where they can act and live self-determinedly.
The initiative Kunst_Kultur: Stop Deportations Now!** invited the artist to present his work at the main hall oft he Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. We curated and organized the show together with him and the Refugee Protest Camp Vienna.
Syed Muhammed Mustafa
20 years, born in Parachinar in Pakistan
In Pakistan it is very dangerous, specially for Shia people. I lived in Parachinar, a tribal area, located close to the Afghanistan border. Before 2007 I had a very nice life as a professional photographer. I had everything. On April 6th 2007 the fighting between Shia people and the Taliban started. In 2008 they destroyed my home in my town. In 2009 they destroyed my digital photostudio and my big truck. My everything was finished.
My family moved to another city. For some months we lived in a new home. We paid money for the rent. Some months later i could not pay the money anymore and we moved out of the city to live in tents. But my life was very bad. My life was not safe.
I went to Islamabad where i found a job as a photographer. I worked one month. After one months the Taliban send a letter to our boss, the owner of the shop. It said that if I will continue working in his studio, they would destroy it as they have already destroyed my home and studio in Parachinar. I left the photostudio and went back to Parachinar.
After some months I went to Iran. Then to Turkey, then to Greece and then to Austria. I came here for a peaceful life. I was thinking if I went to Austria my life and my future would be better. But I see the situation in Austria now and I cannot feel good. Because I cannot see Human Rights here. I am staying in Austria without solutions. I want to go to school, make German courses and learn photography. But nobody could help me. I was tired of it and joined the demonstration and the hungerstrike in the Votivchurch in December 2012. We were hungerstriking for good answers. But I cannot find good news still. I hope somebody helps us. We also have rights in this world. We also are human beings.
I have six years experience as a photographer. I expose, compose, edit, design and print. In the time of the hungerstrike in the Votivchurch I took pictures and made documentary videos about the refugees. The foto series is a collage of the refugees and the Votivchurch in Vienna. I want to stay here and gain more experience in photography. And I want to learn about the Austrian visual and image culture.