John Vella was born in Sydney in 1969 and since 1996 has lived in Hobart with his wife Sonia. Since dropping out of architecture in 1988, he has travelled the world, served as a waiter, labourer, telemarketer, loaded trucks, worked in a phone book factory, completed a DipFA with distinction at the National Art School Sydney, a BFA (Hons) first class and an MFA, (whilst lecturing in painting and drawing) at the Centre for the Arts, Hobart. Since graduating John has continued to maintain an art practice whilst working periodically as a lecturer, an exhibitions officer and a gallery assistant.

Mission: To Catch Akif

Construction: Three custom built box trailers (bullet proof)

Bait: Faux Australian domestic scenes / Akif's favourite things (see file A72) / Welcome video 385: children being thrown onboard / Free internet access

Secret weapons: Hypnotic Mirror ball, strobe light, rap music / Aftershave stun pellets / Self adhering velcro systems: hook and loop bed sheets; hook socks with loop carpet / Personalised sleep inducer code 118 (Kosovar nursery rhymes CD)

To catch Akif the authorities staked out Gatecrasher, a nightclub in Hobart he was known to frequent. Knowing where Akif desired to be, was the key that brought him out of the woods, enabling his recapture and subsequent deportation. Inspired by this cloak and dagger mentality, To Catch A Keith is a series of prototype refugee traps designed and produced by the fictional Department for the Trapping and Return of Refugees.

In contextualising Akif's favourite things,* and the accoutrements of our domestic bliss, as lures into another world, To Catch A Keith highlights the often tragic cycle of desire that brings refugees to our shores.
*information obtained via email contact with Akif in Norway and Sweden

John Vella 2002

To Catch A Keith: Prototypes for trapping refugees on the run (brought to you by DTRR - the Department for the Trapping and Return of Refugees); mixed media and box trailers; 270 x 310 x 170cm each; 2002/03