I have been very aware lately of my Moroccan heritage, I investigated regularly and thoroughly.
I am only half Moroccan. My father is and I was born and raised there until my 13th birthday, but my mother is Austrian and I spent those 13 years a lot closer to her than to my dad. As a child I rejected in full that Moroccan side of mine, I loathed it and anything to do with it, I refused to wear anything traditional, didn’t like arabic class, I despised men’s attitude towards women and embraced the Austrian side, which to me equated to European, to my mother, more freedom and possibilities of escape (I smile now at this naivety, they have their tight corsets there, they just have them elsewhere!) You know, you grow up and realise as children we merely react, we are very conditioned by our environment and those around us. Later as adults, we can decide. I was educated in french school so you could also say French culture is also part of me ( I never drew one moroccan map, but I drew hundred of french maps!) . I may therefore have a 3rd of each. I would argue that it may even just be a quarter, the last quarter being my experience in life, my extensive travels and my inquisitive mind while trying to make choices and apply them in what I want to keep of my heritage and what I rather dish and leave far behind in a place I wouldn’t have they keys to. This may even take a third if not more of what defines me.
I started looking for my other half and I found a mosaic!
I recently wondered what is left of my Austrian side, where does it come out in my practice as an artist. I do have a great admiration, and take great inspiration from the late 1800 early 1900 era, the romantic painters, Jugendstil, Secessionists (gold anyone?), Wiener Werkstaette, Biedermeier but also later the Viennese Actionists in the way to challenge stereotypes, establishment and doing so while involving themselves physically. I also like to go look for points of view within philosophy and many happen to come from German Austrian culture. Overall none of those are a happy optimistic bunch. Not many would carry yellow balloons around!
Earlier this summer I escaped the urban chaos of Los Angeles looking for stillness and silence. I went to the Eastern Sierra. I hiked. I found bliss and peace.
And there I found it! The Austrian in me likes to hike, be in the mountain, in solitude, in silence, looking at the moon rise and harbours a certain melancholia, a girl who thinks going to the ball may be a very cool thing to do and gallantry still have their place, and sometimes underlying sadness. None of this has anything to do with Moroccan culture! The outdoorsy, sporty, ecologically minded, health conscious is definitely austrian too.
I took unconsciously first, more consciously later a lot of self portraits with that exact feel mimicking the paintings of Kaspar David Friedrich and this enigmatic melancholia.
A friend shared with me a welsh word recently : Hiraeth. It means a longing for one’s homeland, but it’s not mere homesickness. It’s an expression of the bond one feels with one’s home country when one is away from it. It is similar to Saudade in portuguese.
I wonder if there is not something like that describes that feeling but that wouldn’t be solely attached to homeland but something higher impalpable. It woudlnt be about a country, or a person but maybe some kind of knowing and feeling. My journey on Latitude 34 has definitely got me questioning this very notion of home in today’s fast moving world. For me home is definitely a feeling I don’t recall ever having felt truly growing up. Does it belong to an instinct, a feeling of knowing its there somewhere, some place for us to find ? A melancholia that earth is home beyond the boundaries we created physically and in our minds and it has some magically beautiful rooms while others are being savaged. Physically, metaphorically.
Mojave Desert 2011
Coffin Bay Australia 2012
Mono Lake 2013
“The moon is the dream of the sun” Klee. Mono Lake 2013
The ultimate! Eastern Sierra 2013
Hello yellow 2013
Eastern Sierra 2013