Stories from the stories of longing
'Stories for the country of longing' is a portrait project by KDM. Shot during lockdown 6, this project documents how the Covid related border closure affected the migrant community Down Under.
Genres:People, Documentary, Stories of resilience, Community, Strength
Date Taken:August 1, 2021
Country of Origin:Australia
Born to Algerian parents in France, KDM is a multi-disciplinary self-taught artist of color.
KDM has been benefitting from stolen land (Australia) since 2012, where she established her practice specializing in visual art, analogue photography and writing.
Helped by her double experience of migration and her understanding of the challenges they entail, identity and belonging are prevalent themes she enjoys exploring and questioning.
Currently studying International Studies, she enjoys creating bodies of work that combine her passion for art and social justice.
Hi, my name is Khadija Hadjab and I am a storyteller, a writer and a visual artist operating under the alias KDM. Originally from Algeria/France, I’ve been benefitting from stolen land (Australia) for 9 years. My practice focuses on questioning the status quo and documenting the challenges experienced by the migrant community in Naarm/ Australia.
When I moved Down Under 9 years ago, I promised my parents to visit at least once a year. All was well until Covid hit. In that time, I was not able to hold my family for nearly 4 years.
Navigating the uncertainty of the pandemic whilst being homesick was extremely hard. I was craving speaking my own language, being around people who share my culture. I needed to hold on to any form of familiarity, to help me feel ‘safe’. With cases soaring through Europe, I was constantly living in fear of never getting to see my family ever again. That fear was debilitating at times.
In August 2021, I decided to look beyond my own sorrow and reached out to members of my community via Facebook groups. I wanted to document how the Covid related border closure was affecting us. That’s how “Stories from the country of longing” was born.
Reaching out to strangers at a time where suspicion was so high and human connections something to avoid at any cost was scarry. Thankfully, my first shoot made me realize that my apprehension was unjustified.
The prompt was simple: I took a photo of each participant whilst they held a board on which they wrote the date they were last 'home'.
Meeting members of my community created an instant connection. Whilst our sorrow and grief united us, this project also allowed me to put my own story in perspective.
Over the course of 6 months, I gathered 50 stories of longing. Griet (Netherlands) and Alfie (Philippines) lost their father without being able to attend the funeral. Their exemption to travel was rejected by the department of Immigration. Lisa (Italy) was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and underwent heavy treatment without her parents by her side. Jorge (Mexico) hadn’t seen his family for 7 years and had finally booked tickets for a reunion when Covid hit.
With 30% of the total Australian population born overseas (ABS, 2019), my project is only the tip of the iceberg.
Although our heart was broken by Australia’s inhuman policies, our smile is a testimony of our incredible resilience and the courage we never ceased to show.
I sincerely hope that this project can help someone, even just a little, to find some closure one day.
Thank you for your consideration.