“Tampa” is a sculpture and performance about the plight of recent refugees in Australia. It references the Tampa incident where refugees fleeing wars and persecution in a small leaking boat were intercepted by the Australian Army following their rescue by the Norwegian ship "Tampa". The refugees were then redirected and detained in Nauru. The performance and sculpture took place from 30 October to 16 November 2003 as part of the annual International exhibition and event Sculpture by the Sea at Bondi, Sydney. The sculpture and performance acted as a dichotomy between the sense of freedom and grandeur the individual experiences at the seashore and the imprisonment refugees faced as a result of their trust in the most basic form of humanity at that seashore. The sculpture was a 10:1 scaled version of the MS Tampa and signified the beginning of how the seashore turned refugees into prisoners of inhumanity.
Lloyds Register shows the MS Tampa to be 246.41m x 32.36m breadth x 21.01m depth. Therefore the Tampa cell was 24.6 m long, 3.2m wide and 2.1 m high. The bars were spaced approximately 15cm apart.
The performance consisted of myself waiting for my release. My possessions and daily needs were contained in a suitcase. I arrived each morning at 10 am, entered my prison and stayed there without exiting until 6pm.
The 'point of view’ of the caged was central to the performance. The inversion of the gaze as an exploratory tool and an illustration of the privileged artist’s position were critical to the outcome. As such, each day at 10 am, 12 pm, 2 pm and 4 pm, I took photographs from within my prison and placed them on my website.
© Mireille Astore 2003-2006