Tracings: Unraveling Home in the Diaspora
layered thread installation series
Tracings: Unraveling Home in the Diaspora presents works that contemplate the notion of home, post-migration. Inspired by my family’s journey from the Middle-East to Canada, the thesis examines ways in which the juxtaposition of memories and spatial encounters can explore the hybridized domestic identity of an Iraqi-Canadian, living in the suburbs of Southern Ontario.
For migrants, spaces they leave behind are solely accessible through memories, photos, and video calls with loved ones back home, whereas spaces they confront upon arrival remain distant and unfamiliar. Through the lenses of memory, experimentation, sensation, and encounter, I revisit the domestic spaces of my past and present, and respond to them using sketches, video recordings, photos and making ventures. Aiming to unravel a layered perception of home today, I juxtapose gauzy childhood memories where I play in the shade of the trees in my grandparents’ garden in Baghdad, with a recent encounter with Cooksville Creek, a landscape feature adjacent to my first Canadian home in Mississauga.
Striving to resolve the paradox of home in the diaspora, Tracings, a four-piece textile series, explores the relationship between my recalling mind and my sensing body. In deterritorializing memories of a past home and sensations of a familiar landscape, in each season, and reterritorializing them into each work, I uncover fragments of home. Within each piece, as I unravel coloured thread on a mould of the rocks at the creek, I capture the forces of my encounter with a landscape that is physically accessible to me today. Simultaneously, as I lay down each layer of thread, I dwell upon the garden I played in as a child, a place I no longer experience, yet unceasingly retreat to in my mind. As I complete each piece, I peel away the mould of the landscape, leaving only the forces of my interaction with it behind, made visible through color.
Throughout the process, I negotiate the contours of my home in the diaspora, as each piece becomes a temporal, open-ended map of its terrain. My aim, as I create the series, is not to merely represent my memories and the landscape, but to create works that evoke a sense of ambiguity and express the nagging feeling of “in-between”, caused by migration. The work, an intimate and personal endeavor, aspires to speak universally to migrants today, to anyone who ever had to leave home. In addition, the thesis unfolds alongside an analysis of contemporary artists who, in their bodies of work, address issues of displacement and the search for home.
Furthermore, the concepts that guide the research are distilled from the works of philosophers who, in their writing, focus on art and architecture’s affect on the beholder and the inhabitant as intrinsic arbitrators between humans and the cosmos. Throughout the thesis, I reflect on what home means to me and where home is today.
*This project was done as part of my masters of architecture thesis at the University of Waterloo, School of Architecture.
Thesis upervisor: Rick Andrighetti
Commitee member: Dereck Revington
Internal reader: Marie-Paule Macdonald
External reader: Soheila Esfahani