Crossing Over: the human story

Crossing Over is an art project instigated and realised by my friend Arun Rao and many of the Blazing Swan community. 


A few words from Arun himself:

My initial intention with the piece was to create a space where people could listen to or read stories of those who have sought asylum by boat and develop a heart connection with the experience and the people forced into such a situation.

On Monday, after 9hrs of carrying it out piece by piece onto the lake and constructing it with torch light 30mins before the heavy rains set in it became something else. Looking at it the next morning with the reflection in the water it became a monument for me; a homage to the beautiful spirits that have emerged from such hardship. Aside from the other materials not working out that felt like enough.

From the safe distance of the shore it may have seemed like an effort or inconvenience to brave the elements and walk out to the boat….but for those who did, I hope you appreciated the beautiful natural environment out there, the aesthetics of the boat, the work that went into it, and it started a process of engagement and a conversation in your mind about what seeking asylum really means.

I hope taking that step out of your comfort zone into the unfamiliar and finding something unexpected and meaningful gave you some courage to do more of it. Behind the narrative, the Truman show that is painted for us (particularly around the issue of seeking asylum) there is something quite different out there. There is real stories, there is real people, there is real sadness and there is real beauty. But most of all it is real, and in that connection with reality and authenticity there is a real peace. For me that is the real illumination. 

Crossing Over 2015

Arun Rao + Saraswati camp + Blazing Swan and Shivan helpers

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“Places matter. Their rules, their scale, their design include or exclude civil society, pedestrianism, equality, diversity (economic and otherwise), understanding of where water comes from and garbage goes, consumption or conservation. They map our lives [...] the way we inhabit places also matters, and that comes from experience, imagination, belief, and desire as much as or more than from architecture and design. In other words, the mind and the terrain shape each other: every landscape is a landscape of desire to some degree, if not always for its inhabitants”
Solnit, R. 2007. Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics, p.9.

cc 2021 by Gwenaël Velge