Welcome Home Installation

WELCOME HOME

The Welcome Home installation has a personal-family aspect that gives me room to express my gender and national identity. Following the Silent Outcry installation that I exhibited at the Umm El Fahem Art Gallery in 2018, my work in recent years relates to the Nakba that women in general, and those in my family in particular, have undergone. It signifies a personal perspective that implies and connects with the collective story through art.

Over the past year, I have studied and examined the story of my late aunt Alexandra Kawar, who lived in Haifa and was forced to leave her home in 1948, never to return. While going through photographs of the house (located not far from my home) that I had taken in the course of my research, I was surprised to discover on the ground floor, which had been turned into a shop, a large illuminated sign at the front: Welcome Home. The spectacle left me badly shaken. I remembered my aunt’s visit to the house in 1967 and her encounter with the modified building and the tenants who had resided there from 1948 on. They had become the owners of the house when she left, while the original owners—my aunt, her husband, and their children—had become homeless refugees, the keys to the place still in their hands.

The space in the Welcome Home installation is dismantled and dysfunctional. I used simple materials that can be moved from place to place: cardboard boxes, folding table legs, and beehive cardboard that I combined with ceramic objects and a bright new Welcome Home sign that connects the old with the new.

Although the images of home in the installation are meant to suggest serenity and security, they actually evoke such disruption as to make the viewer feel that the place is haunted by ghosts. The buffer between interior and exterior is breached and blurred by the partly blocked arches. The different objects simulate archeological relics frozen in time. I turn the napkins, my aunt’s sole memento of her home, into hard, broken ceramic tiles that float above the floor to affix the memory of my aunt, the owner of the house.

The installation has an additional meaning that relates to the representation of the Last Supper in art history. For me, as a woman who received a Christian religious education, the table, the arches, the fish, and the food connect the feminine and religious realities with the collective Palestinian narrative.