Saturday, October 9, 2010

Youmna Chlala and Jeanno Gaussi

Youmna Chlala and Jeanno Gaussi
Via Khan el Zeit: Home Sweet Home – Jerusalem
Artist book, video & installation.(2010)

Home Sweet Home, Jerusalem is a publication, video & installation project that investigates the exhaustive qualities of continually moving between the real and the imagined. By activating a home-space, we interrogate the relationships of self/object/ space and respond to a ritual of location that is rooted in the belief that home remains both a search and a dream. (Text from Jerusalem Show Catalogue)

We were invited by ArteEast to the March Meeting in Sharjah in 2010 and we presented our project there. We had already done the project in Jordan so we had a very clear idea in mind. We wanted to find the next location and to find people who were interested in this project and would like to work with us. We met Jack and Jumana and they invited us to come to Jerusalem so we came here for a month from mid July – mid August 2010.

Home Sweet Home looks at the rituals associated with location: first imagining the location, then moving to / staying in that location, then leaving and finally re-imagining the location after you have left it. The project has several components that differ slightly from location to location but include video, installation and publication.

In Jordan the project consisted of a collaborative video, installation and magazine which we called The Beloved. We did interviews with old people in the village and asked them what their most beloved object was. Through these objects we were often able to quickly get to intimate memories and the life stories associated with these. In Jerusalem this format is slightly different. There are two videos, photographs and a publication.
During our visit here we stayed in an apartment in Jerusalem for a month so the whole project was created in and about this space. We compiled a complete inventory of objects in the apartment and photographed them juxtaposing certain objects with others in the publication. Some of the photographs are exhibited at Anadiel.

Their interaction with someone else’s home in Jerusalem had an added dimension which took their investigation and representation of the space to another level. The owner of the apartment lives in Ramallah but needs to keep up the appearance of living in Jerusalem otherwise it will be designated as empty and repossessed by the Israeli municipality. Therefore the representation of the space and every object in it is also the representation of an illusion that is fundamental if one is to retain the physical reality of that home in Jerusalem at all.

Always have a Plan B (II)
The Book (that wasn’t there) Launch

Youmna Chlala and Jeanno Gaussi like to work with local organizations in whatever location their project is being executed. So they used a printer in Ramallah to print the books. When they received the publication there were some serious problems with it so although the video and photography installation at Anadiel were fine, the book launch - without the book - had to be completely re-thought.

So instead of launching the book at the Educational Bookshop on Salahuddin Street, they described the project instead through objects representing each stage: a mirror for the first imagining, an embroidery frame for the moving and staying, a pair of shoes for the leaving and chewing gum, a taste that fades, for the re-imagining. They talked about their experience of the space and how each of them developed their own video projects, and also about the wider project and how the essence of a universal human experience is contained within it. They also noted that they had not actually seen each other’s video work until they saw it as exhibited for the Jerusalem Show at Anadiel:

The fact that each video piece happened without the other person present, meant that it wasn’t until the moment of the show opening that we saw actually each other’s work. This was great because we each had very different interpretations of the space so we then could have a conversation about each of our different pieces which in turn starts a whole other conversation.

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