SYRIA

From 2006 to 2016, my artwork was based on archival architectural records of buildings in Berlin where Jews and persecuted artists and intellectuals lived and worked until the 1930s when – like my own father and his family – they were forced to flee. Having spent a decade making work about the forced migration from Berlin in the 1930s, I suddenly found my project linked to a present-day crisis: Berlin was becoming a destination for refugees rather than a place to escape. I couldn’t continue to consider Berlin’s relationship to the experience of exile and place, identity and culture, without thinking about Syria.


In September 2016, I volunteered at Flughafen Tempelhof, then Berlin’s largest refugee camp. I began traveling frequently to Berlin to meet with Syrian refugees, who have been extraordinarily generous with photographs, videos, and stories of their former homes.


In fall 2017 I embarked on a body of work with two videos of a destroyed home in Aleppo at its heart. My aim, and I am treading as lightly as possible as I do this, is to translate the powerful ongoing exchanges I am fortunate to have with refugees in Berlin, to represent their lost homes and the lives they contained as something at once concrete and invisible. I am casting in cement, which contains echoes of the cinderblock that is often revealed after bombing, and creating plaster baths in which I soak canvas and burlap. These building materials are proving to be effective media to convey the concrete-ness of the destruction of home and place, and at the same time the resilience of the people who have survived that destruction