Canada-based New Zealand artist Bruce Barber explores the politics of citizenship through the ongoing work I Swear. First exhibited in 2008 at Artspace Sydney, I Swear consists of a series of billboards, an archive and a public discussion that share varying forms of communication that shape nation states and effect the social status of people.
The billboards display the citizenship oaths of three commonwealth countries New Zealand, Australia and Canada. In each, differing degrees of constitutional autonomy are highlighted by the required submission to God or Queen revealing how the legacy of colonisation still defines being a subject in these nation states.
The archive is an accumulative collection of newspaper clippings compiled daily throughout 2017 from the New Zealand Herald on the topics of refugees, immigration and citizenship – issues that have become even more urgent this year with many displaced Syrian refugees still seeking asylum, the forthcoming exit of Britain from the European Union and the United States’ travel ban of people from Muslim-majority nations.
Through the public discussion, the billboards and archive are brought into conversation to question how inclusion and exclusion of people are performed and enforced through language. Subscribe to Te Tuhi’s social media for more information on this live event.
→ Barber on Immigration – EyeContact