Bukjeh in Whittlesea

“When you have limited time left to leave your home, you grab the most valuable things you have in one sack, a Bukjeh, and walk. When you are leaving a whole life behind and starting a new one, what do we decide to keep?”


Bukjeh is a multi-artform performance that invites audiences to sit in a handmade tent and experience the stories of refugees through poetry, dance, music, song and art. 

Late in 2019, Creative Victoria funded the creative development and production of BUKJEH in the City of Whittlesea. This was to be a community engagement project between local community and Bukjeh artists. When COVID dramatically changed the live performance landscape, the project innovatively adapted to the digital environment.

Bukjeh moved online and asked the question, “what if, instead of being told to stay at home, you were forced to leave your home?”

Artist-led workshops were delivered on zoom, forums were hosted on Facebook Live and artists responded to the provocation with collaborations developed over a distance under lockdown.


A number of commissions were developed to support the Bukjeh artists during the stage 4 Covid lockdown. 

One Two Three, written and performed by Aseel Tayah

Baby Bundle by José-Pepe Inostroza Aqueveque, Florence Folole Tupuola
and Rania Ahmed
Movement: José-Pepe Inostroza Aqueveque
Florence Folole Tupuola
Poetry: Rania Ahmed
Filmed by José-Pepe Inostroza Aqueveque and Florence Folole Tupuola

Breadsticks by Rania Ahmed (Poetry)and Meena Shamaly (Music)

Whittlesea Soundscapes  As part of Bukjeh’s community engagement in the City of Whittlesea over the course of 2020, Aseel Tayah interviewed people from the community from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds who shared their stories. These stories were variously, beautiful, shocking, very happy and very sad. 



In March 2021 we were able to deliver the physical performance of Bukjeh at the Plenty Ranges Arts and Convention Center in South Morang.

The below videos were created to document this process.

Bukjeh in Whittlesea

Oz Malik

Rania Ahmed - Bukjeh with the City of Whittlesea

Aseel Tayah - Extended Interview