New Voices, New Relationships

What would it take for you to leave your homeland and travel thousands of miles to another country, knowing you may never return? What would you choose to take with you? What would you hope to find in your new destination? How would you know whether the move had been worth it?  What might your migration mean for others already living where you chose to go? And how do you think your new home’s museums should tell your stories? 

Nv Nr Identity 2018

In this exhibition, we share the stories of women who have come from other lands to make Alice Springs their home.  We tell these stories in a way which explores not just the delights, but also the many difficulties which arise when humans leave their own homelands to inhabit the homelands of others.  We tell these stories through reflections on objects from “before” and by coming together to cook and share breads and other staples from our families which we have brought with us here.

 We also want to acknowledge that regardless of where we have come from, we have all made our home on the land of Arrernte people.

Pathee and sukunda from Nepal, selected by Mona for the New Voices, New Relationships exhibition

We have given a lot of thought to how museums might tell these stories.  We want to be careful that we don’t simplify, decontextualize or re-imagine the experiences of the women who share their stories in the exhibition.  Through images, objects and texts, museums do not simply preserve and re-enact an ‘objective’ past but can (deliberately or inadvertently) contribute to the creation of a one-dimensional history and national identity.

New Voices, New Relationships shows the global motivations for migration, crossing country, culture and different periods of time.  It also provides a reflective and safe space to think about how cultural heritage, languages, beliefs and family connections influence our self-perceptions and our perceptions of other people – perceptions that can lead to discovery, confusion, prejudice, understanding and/or acceptance.

These stories are the new voices of our museum.  More fundamentally, though, are the new relationships that have been nurtured as we have worked together, relationships between ourselves, the women whose stories we tell and the Arrernte women on whose homelands we all now live.  It is our hope that, in the same way, this exhibition nurtures new relationships between all of us and our visitors.

New Voices, New Relationships lifeline panel

We thank Anileen Bensted, Jovita Price, Leony Bowey, Mona Ulak, Marguerite Baptiste-Rooke, Flora Mpofu, Maya Cifali, Karin Berschl, Pragita Juneja, Annie-Margaret Andeba, Dow Saphaothong Williams and Marsha Maule-Murphy for guiding the production of this woman-centred exhibition.