You are Here: Plan for an imaginary journey (2017)
Collaged, Frotage Graphite on Paper, 120 cm
Produced during the ArtBnB residency programme at HaMiffal, Jerusalem, this work responded to my experiences and encounters of the area directly in the vicinity of the HaMiffal building within a 100m radius. I was interested by the multiple layers of history and overlapping realities that you experience by walking around Jerusalem. HaMiffal, a former Arab house, then a school, abandoned and then a squat, sits just beyond the walls of the old city, just a few meters away from the former Jordanian border and the 'seam'. The building is now used as a cultural centre, but its various layers of history, and its overlapping inhabitation and uses can be seen etched on its walls. This is common in Jerusalem, to see these multiple layers visible, cracked walls, peeling, half exposed, half hidden, half overwritten. I was interested in how I could use the act of drawing and erasing as a metaphorical tool, and the process of collage to create a new and imagined map that takes an abstracted look at a landscape that embodies so many overlapping ideologies, histories and subjectivities. I began by making frottage drawings of various walls and surfaces in the area, starting with the walls in HaMiffal, and working outwards to various walls, and textures in the neighbourhood including the headstones of Arab graves in the Mamilla cemmetary, many of which had already been destroyed for the construction of the new Museum of Tolerance. I took the drawings back to the studio, where I erased what I had drawn, leaving only the most prominent marks behind. I then cut out along the most significant lines and shapes that were left in the drawings, and re-arranged them into what appears to be a surreal territory seen from the air. A lunar landscape with the traces of previous inhabitation, absurd borders that don't lead anywhere, enclaves, gaps and lines. The map also contains cuttings from drawings made during an Unmapping workshop I led during the residency, containing some of the subjective and remembered experiences of the participants.
The workshop aimed to consider what an embodied map could look like. How can we create a map of memories and places that cannot, or perhaps should not be mapped. How can we explore drawing and mark making as a process to capture something which is felt but not seen?
In pairs we took turns in exploring how giving different sensory information, different forms of touch, strokes, pressures, movements and speeds to the partner's hand and arm, could lead to corresponding marks and lines on paper.
Participants were asked to think of an emotionally significant memory that was located in a particular place. Using sensory drawing techniques, the pairs took turns in physically and sensorily describing the place of their memory, the spatial layout, significant objects, and specific dynamics in that place using their 'mind's eye' as a guide. They did not need to share anything about the memory nor the place in words, the exercise was purely a means to connect to the place and the memory within it in an internal way.
The drawings (or maps) were a mass of lines, shapes and markings of different qualities, textures and gestures. Each drawing specific to the particular dynamic of the pair.
The final part of the workshop was to consider a conscious reflection on this space and this memory. Everyone worked on a sheet of tracing paper on top of the drawing/map of their place to add any details that came up for them whilst doing the exercise; words, colours, objects, patterns, movement through the space, the presence or absence of people or conversation.
For more about my Unmapping project visit unmapping.space or follow my Instagram @unmapping.space
This is our neighbourhood (November 2016)
A map made during a series of workshops with children at the Buurtatelier and the Oba public library, Amsterdam. Together with children from the Indischebuurt district, we created a map of the area based on the childrens own experiences. The children aged between 6-10 were asked to make drawings of the things that were most important to them in the area, to think about how they felt in certain places and to draw those feelings, and to imagine going on a journey from their house to their favorite place. What kinds of things would they see on the way? They also made drawings of their homes and since many of them had family orgins from different countries, they finally also made 'islands' which represented their various multi-cultural backgrounds.
Mapping the Medina (December 2014)
Mapping the Medina was a project made through a series of workshops and activities held at Twiza, a cultural centre in Tunis at which I was artist in residence September 2014 - February 2015. I wanted to create an image that would function as a document of lived experience, and social realities within the Medina of Tunis, made with and by the people who live there. The Medina is the oldest part of the city and it's myriad of winding streets were a perfect place to get lost and discover the intricacies of this place, its history, and how it is being used now. I led a series of 'Mapping' workshops in which we created hand drawn personalised maps to 'de-navigate' the city, to create chance encounters with people and places. Participants made drawings of their journeys and discoveries, collected paper items we found, and asked people that we met in the streets to participate in making drawings of their houses and market stalls. Some people got really into it and also showed some amazing drawing skills. As part of the project, I erected some boards on the walls outside of Twiza with the words "Tell me a secret, What are your dreams?" written in Arabic, French and English. I left some pens, with the idea that passer's by would write messages on the boards and these messages would be integrated into the map. The boards attracted quite some attention with people writing messages which to the social and political dynamic of post revolution Tunisia, as well as more intimate and personal. "I wish that Amazigh language would be taught in schools", "I wish that my brothers would return home from Italy", "I dream of a prosperous Tunisia with human rights", "I want to be a bird"... Soon however, football graffiti took over together with messages against the police "Fuck the police", "ACAB" etc, and eventually the boards were pulled off the wall and set on fire.
Shuffle Festival - Memory Map (September 2015)
Memory Map was an interactive drawing project for Shuffle festival 2015: Movement, Migration and Place, which sought to explore the relationship between memory, fantasy and home. The festival was held in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, an urban forest wedged within an inner city district of East London. I wanted to reflect on the social and ethnic diversity of the area, by creating a fantasy 'map' consisting not of the streets and houses that people live in now, but of their memories of their childhood homes. I invited visitors to participate by making a drawing on a blackboard wall, with what they could remember of the floorplan of the house they grew up in. Each drawing could be added on to the board wherever they could find space or wanted it to be, joining on to other houses that were already there. As more drawings of houses were added to the board, a map began to emerge with imaginary streets and neighbourhoods. A city as a collection of memories from different places as well as from just around the corner.
To read more about this project click here