Like a moth to a flame
Artist: Sha Sarwari
February & March 2020
Sha Sarwari is a multidisciplinary visual artist who came to Australia as a refugee from Afghanistan in 2000. In 2020, Like a moth to a flame is a collection of Sha’s most recent work. His work speaks of a place that exists between two worlds, longing and belonging, with a pointed reference to the political discourse around refugees and migration, identity, place, memory, nationhood and personal lived experience.
The exhibition title Like a moth to a flame is used as a metaphor for the often tragic plight of refugees. A moths fatal attraction to bright lights is a well-known allusion to a person who is ‘apt to be tempted by something that would lead to their downfall’.
Moths also symbolise determination, attraction and faith, they are driven towards light. Refugees share the same attributes as they are driven towards the ‘light’ of the West, like a beacon of hope to escape unliveable circumstances of war and oppression in their homelands.
However, for many this beacon of hope proves to be an illusion when refugees flee situations of human rights abuse to then face new abuses of political rejection, indefinite incarceration in detention centres, systemic abuse, politically motivated racism, journalistic stereotyping and social alienation. On some occasions the new abuses refugees face in the ‘light’ of the West lead to their demise, ‘like a moth to a flame.’
The works in Like a moth to a flame are an engagement in the creative process of material investigation to counter and heal the enduring trauma of the refugee experience and of reconciling cultural identity, understanding and belonging within and beyond the artist’s life.
Learn more about the work in this exhibition in the story, ‘The hopeful quality of Like a Moth to a Flame.’