Working Statement draft
exploring her own identity through her relationship with place and extended family, she moved into exploring her faith and the relationships she and other Arab-Women in her life have with Islam. Her next steps in exploring the formation of her cultural identity leads to the generation that started this journey; her parents. Through this home-video montage, incorporating audio of conversations Kotaiche had with her parents, we see how Kotaiche and her family have been influenced and engaged in the culture, politics and history her parents brought with them.
working titles: Ya3ni = I mean / La Tansaani = Forget me not / Ajnabi = foreign / Hafiz = Maintain / Call of the void / Ahwal = Conditions
huwiya = identity / 3andik ljinsiyi? = Do you have the nationality?
Ya3ni It’s a bit complex innit.
Kotaiche has spent the most part of her higher education exploring cultural identity, from delving into the deep end by travelling to Lebanon and Kuwait to learn more about her heritage, to reflecting on her faith as a Britsh-Arab muslim woman, to now engaging with generational and migrational development of the Arab Diaspora in Britain. During the Covid-19 lockdown, Kotaiche took it upon herself to talk about and investigate the generation that started this journey; her parents.
Kotaiche often uses her nostalgia to influence her visual work aiming to connect the viewers senses to the work through the use of light, shadows and space. In this body of work she has adapted this form of production into video, in which movement, sound and speech are used to engage other senses. After watching and resonating with David Jackson’s video piece “This is not my home”, where Kotaiche felt she could feel the heat of the country filmed, as well as recognise certain smells simply through what was seen, and becoming emotional from certain sounds, she desired to spark this emotion towards her own audience.
The montage is made up of video clips from the UK within the past year, as well as snippets from her last trip to Lebanon in 2018 and home videos of both the UK and Lebanon from pre-2005. Included is audio recordings of conversations Kotaiche had with both parents, as well as her siblings and her self. Through this we see how Kotaiche and her family have been influenced and engaged in the culture, politics and history her parents brought with them; how they have maintained and passed on their Lebanese identity, whilst developing, recognising and understanding their personal identity, in Britain.
The video, being shot in both the UK and Lebanon, should resonate with more than just a British-POC audience, but also a non-poc audience; through the use of the family and relatable visuals of place, and sound. The video recognises the struggles faced, but the subtle ways of cultural maintainability through this, as well as the recognition of the journey that lead to the present day where my siblings and my self have had to develop our own cultural identity and sense of belonging and understanding.
Cultural identity is complex in its own, being British-Lebanese is complex in its own; so what about the generation of Lebanese people that fled the country for a better life? The lives of Akef Kotaiche and Ghada Hussain aren’t as simple as being born in one country and moving to another. They had a little extra bit of jumping around between those stages. From my maternal family being moved back and forth between Lebanon and Libya, experiencing war, deaths and never truly being stable until the noughties, to my paternal family moving from Lebanon to Kuwait due to political dispute. Through these conversations, Kotaiche has learnt more about her own lineage as well as the political histories that lead to this non-linear narrative, recognising how this is still very much a common story for many first gen migrants.
Although the work is personal, it does aim to tackle the fear of uncertainty, and offer a positive visual narrative for both future generations of migrants and their offspring, including the future generation produced by my own generation. Often as children of migrants, you may experience a confusing upbringing dependable on certain aspects of life such as location, finance and communication. For those who weren’t privileged enough to travel frequently to the motherland, or attend an Islam/Arabic class growing up or not surrounded by any form of POC community, you form an imbalance in your cultural identity. There are many people who have experienced this similar confusion, loss and eagerness for this sense of belonging. By recognising this through her work, Kotaiche hopes to continue this conversation that helps to educate and inform her generation that there is a balance if desired, the first generation can not be at complete fault for their own experience and interpretations, and how to help maintain and produce a future generation that recognises their heritage, the history of the land they live in and the society they live in; in order for a clearer understanding of ones cultural identity.