In Conversation: Behrouz Boochani & Ibrahim Mahama

In Conversation: Behrouz Boochani & Ibrahim Mahama

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Join us for an In Conversation with Behrouz Boochani and Ibrahim Mahama, moderated by Human Rights Watch Australia Director, Elaine Pearson.

About this event

For the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, titled NIRIN, Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama created an immersive installation titled after Behrouz Boochani’s 2018 book, No Friend but the Mountains – a harrowing account of his lived experience as an asylum seeker imprisoned for six years on Manus Island.

Mahama’s work dresses the entirety of the interior Turbine Hall at Cockatoo Island with jute sacks in an all-encompassing sensory experience that explores themes of commodity, migration and globalisation.

This “In Conversation” brings together Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama and Kurdish-Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani for the first time for a one-hour webinar to explore the relationship between their works. Moderated by Human Rights Watch Director, Elaine Pearson, the audience will be invited to submit their questions prior to the event.

This online event will be hosted on Zoom. Registrants will receive secure login details on the morning of the event.

This event will be Auslan interpreted.

50% of proceeds from the event will be donated to Human Rights Watch.


Read the Biennale of Sydney's Terms & Conditions of Sale:



Behrouz Boochani

Associate Professor Behrouz Boochani is a Kurdish-Iranian writer, journalist, scholar, cultural advocate and filmmaker. His book, 'No Friend but the Mountains: Writing From Manus Prison' won the 2019 Victorian Prize for Literature, the NSW Premier’s Award 2019, and the National Biography Award 2019. Behrouz Boochani was recently granted refugee status in New Zealand after six years in a detention centre on Manus Island.

Read more and purchase a copy of 'No Friend but the Mountains: Writing From Manus Prison' --

Ibrahim Mahama

Ibrahim Mahama is a Ghanaian artist and writer. Along with his installation for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney titled No Friend but the Mountains, Mahama’s work has also appeared in numerous international exhibitions including Ghana's first national pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019; the Norval Foundation, Cape Town (2019); and, Documenta 14, Athens and Kassel (2017).  

Elaine Pearson

Elaine Pearson is the Australia Director at Human Rights Watch. Pearson holds degrees in law and arts and obtained her Master's degree in public policy from Princeton University. She has worked for the United Nations and various non-government organisations. She writes frequently for a range of publications and her articles have appeared in national and international media outlets. She is also an adjunct lecturer in law.


Human Rights Watch investigates and reports on abuses happening in all corners of the world. They are roughly 450 people of 70-plus nationalities who are country experts, lawyers, journalists, and others who work to protect the most at risk, from vulnerable minorities and civilians in wartime, to refugees and children in need. They direct their advocacy towards governments and businesses, pushing them to change or enforce their laws, policies and practices.


A weblink for this event will be emailed directly to you at your registered email address. You will receive a reminder email the day of the event. When entering the Zoom webinar your camera will automatically be turned off and your microphone will be muted.


Proceeds of the event will be split between Human Rights Watch and the Biennale of Sydney. You can also make a direct donation to each organisation.

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