Soft Cover, English, Thread Stitching, 48 Pages, 2020, Kunsthalle Wien, Zacheta und National Gallery of Art, Warschau
Huda Takriti. OF CITIES AND PRIVATE LIVING ROOMS
of cities and private living rooms is a semi-fictional multi-media installation that is composed of a two-channel film installation and a photo slide projection. The work questions the hidden biography of the artist’s great-grandmother.
She was always spoken of as the Lebanese Fatima, but never a word about her being a child of Polish or Russian parents, who had immigrated to Ottoman Syria fleeing prosecution in the late 1800s or early 1900s and had named her Victoria. This was kept a secret for generations – In fact, every time it was passed on in the family, it mutated as if it was a game of Chinese whisper. The narrative discrepancy in the family’s (hi)story has led the artist on a search for the truth. Moreover, the truth appears to get lost further and further. “Do we need the truth?” a question stands in the video confronting the artist and the viewer at once.
In the installation, this domestic mystery unfolds into a visual essay where images, family archives, and various landscapes combined with text and memory intertwine with fiction, reality, the histories of migration and diaspora, identity, and representation. The landscape functions as a key thread in the work. On one hand, it offers a walk down memory lane; archival images, which can be located in one of the many places from where the artist’s family originates or at least has settled, be it Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, but also Poland. On the other hand, some of the images could be from almost anywhere – a piece of wood or a mosaic of an empty fountain.
Influenced by Adachi’s Japanese landscape theory which postulates that the landscapes around us are an expression of the dominant political power and that what we see is what we become. Takriti plays with this theory, proving it right and wrong, overlapping and inserting images into one another as she pairs and separates them intuitively.
Time plays an important role; what looks like an archival photo slide, is actually material downloaded from Facebook. At one point, a voice describes what can be seen in the slide projection reminding the viewer to look closely, observe, and find hidden clues in the story.