Basel Zaraa Birmingham, United Kingdom
Laila, you are now five years old.
You have started to ask me where I grew up and why we can’t visit.
This is my answer to you.
Basel Zaraa was born in Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus in 1985. That was his childhood home, even though his roots still belong to the country that his grandparents had to flee in 1948. A home he has lost, once again, destroyed like many others. So when his daughter Laila started asking him where he grew up, unable to show her a place now in ruins, he decided to bring that place to her. He recalled its details – the grey cement cubes, electricity pylons, antennas, Palestinian flags – to build a miniature model: an interactive installation that recreates a typical refugee camp house, bringing it back to life through touch, voice, texts, photos and objects. The spectator is invited to explore it, touch it, listen to its echo, picking up traces of the family that inhabited it. “Dear Laila” narrates the Palestinian experience of displacement and struggle through the story of a family. Using tactile details and memories, it conveys the experience of war through the everyday, the domestic and the public space.
Basel is a UK-based Palestinian artist whose work – consisting mainly of installations – uses the senses to bring audiences closer to experiences of exile and the search for identity. His previous works include “As Far As My Fingertips Take Me”, in collaboration with Tania El Khoury, which was awarded at the 2019 Bessie Awards. The work was hosted at Santarcangelo Festival in 2018: an encounter through a gallery wall between an audience member and a refugee; their arms touch without seeing each other. The refugee marks the audience by drawing on their arm; the audience listens to those who have recently challenged border discrimination.
via Pio Massani 5, Santarcangelo
duration: 15 minutes
language: Italian and English
testi e traduzione Emily Churchill Zaraa
suoni Pete Churchill
doppiatore Stefano Piemontese
su commissione di Good Chance Theatre
con il supporto di Arts Council England
© Mohab Mohamed