Born in Tripoli, Lebanon, Ayman Kaake travelled to Australia in 2011 in pursuit of studying visual arts. A telecommunications engineer and cinematography graduate, he left behind his parents and eleven siblings as he set off on his artistic journey. Applying his creative vision then led to diplomas in photo-imaging and visual arts from Melbourne Polytechnic, winning best conceptual folio with each. Recently, he won the Brunswick Street Gallery’s 40x40 Art Prize.
In 2014, his passion for cinema and photography eventually developed into a body of digital art works, creating images that delve into the dreamlike world of personal experiences, emotional turmoil, and the complexities of isolation that came from starting a new life in a new country. Although dealing with moving and serious emotions, Kaake’s works are almost hopeful, and he believes that “sometimes imagination is better than reality”.
Kaake’s extensive body of images predominantly feature self-portraits exploring the confronting themes of refugee-inspired stories, mostly through a community of people who have travelled by boat to Australia, harbouring dreams of a better life. “With self-portraiture,” Kaake says, “you are not just the photographer, you are the creator, model, art director, cinematographer, and storyteller all in one.” A friend, and Syrian refugee, once told him, “We are not alive, we are just surviving,” and this has always stayed with him.