Guido Van Helten is currently in Australia where he spent the last few days working on this massive artwork somewhere on the streets of Perth.
The talented street artist painted this portrait based on ‘Certificate of Exemption from Dictation Test’, an immigration document of an Afghan Cameleer ‘Said Kabool,’ from Western Australia in 1916.
Dictation tests were an immigration method designed to keep non-white migrants out of Australia under the immigration restriction act in 1901 (white Australia Policy.) Many Afghans were exempt from these tests however as they existed as the backbone of Western Australian economy, supplying mining towns through the desert with their camel trains. The Afghans also built the first mosques in Australia in the 1860’s and the first Perth mosque in 1905, which was recently vandalised along with 2 other Islamic sites in Perth.
Today people of ‘middle eastern appearance’ are currently promoted in the media as the new portrait of fear, the visual identity of a common enemy utilised to bring unity and implement law. The mention of Islam and Islamist is referred to only in the context of terrorism, a threat to the Australian way of life. This is the new ‘Cultural Racism’ replacing the old (white Australia) kind, where ethnic communities are differentiated as being a ‘threat to the cultural integrity’ of who or what is ‘Australian’ or ‘Un-Australian.’ This Contradiction and ingrained racism persist in the mainstream against our almost entirely migrant backgrounds.
Islam in Australia has roots… –Guido Van Helten