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Paris Tear Sheets: Breaking Bread
by Lara Atallah


Paris Tear Sheets is the blog of ArtSlant's Georgia Fee Artist-in-Residence, Lara Atallah, who will be undertaking her residency in Paris during July and August 2015. “Paris tear sheets” refers to daily snapshots taken during the artist’s peregrinations in the city. She will use the blog to chronicle her encounters in Paris as well as her observations of the city.

You can find more information about ArtSlant's Georgia Fee Artist/Writer Residency here.

 

About a year ago, I attended a lecture by David Alan Harvey, one of photography's most well spoken orators, who is both poignant and fiercely dedicated to the medium. I remember him saying that in order to get to the crux of a person’s story, you should break bread with them, live with them for a few days and build an intimate connection. Intimacy is an act of bravery. It requires transcending boundaries within yourself first, and reducing all the folds and threads that mediate a story away from its essence.

I realize that in the past couple of weeks, my posts have been a little taciturn. This lack of loquaciousness stems from some of the attachments I’ve weaved with my subjects. Telling their story in words can be an arduous endeavor, as I’ve felt not only enriched by their presence but also wary of certain boundaries; I’m constantly wondering what should and should not be told to an audience.

Last week, I met a friend visiting Paris who decided to introduce me to a relative of hers: a lovely lady called Tamima. Having settled in France decades ago, Tamima worked as an interior designer shaping her life with objects and colors that embellish her Parisian home. With splashes of red and curious little artifacts sitting on shelves and side tables, the apartment is a shrine for beauty in all its manufactured forms. As we prepare a lunch, Tamima talks about her love Beirut, a city she has never ceased to long for. She looks around and says spaces here are too small. She misses living in a city that’s always basking under sunlight.

As I listen to her nostalgic musings, the same way I’ve listened to every expat’s walk down memory lane, my mind takes me back to The Future of Nostalgia by Svetlana Boym, who passed away last weekI've used her book as a key reading since I started Tales of a Non-Country. First believed to be a disease found amongst soldiers fighting on foreign land, nostalgia has since evolved into the imaginary space one believes once existed and longs for. One question pokes the back of my mind with each encounter: is nostalgia a delusion that is essential for basic survival? 

 

Lara Atallah

Lara Atallah (born Beirut, Lebanon, based in Brooklyn, NY) is a visual artist working with photography. You can find the full list of blog posts from her Paris residency here. Additional images from Lara's residency are on Instagram, #paristearsheets.

 

(All images: Lara Atallah)



Posted by Lara Atallah on 8/9 | tags: photography portraiture tales of a non-country memory Georgia Fee artist residency artist-in-residence Paris lebanese diaspora nostalgia #paristearsheets Paris Tear Sheets

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Paris Tear Sheets: Hiraeth
by Lara Atallah


Paris Tear Sheets is the blog of ArtSlant's Georgia Fee Artist-in-Residence, Lara Atallah, who will be undertaking her residency in Paris during July and August 2015. “Paris tear sheets” refers to daily snapshots taken during the artist’s peregrinations in the city. She will use the blog to chronicle her encounters in Paris as well as her observations of the city.

You can find more information about ArtSlant's Georgia Fee Artist/Writer Residency here.

 

I was introduced to Hind through a common friend. Upon meeting her, the first thing that struck me, after her heart-warming hospitality, was the tattoo on her forearm. I asked candidly: “What is ‘hiraeth’?” I was far from expecting that the answer I would receive would lead me to naming this iteration of Tales of a Non-Country after that conversation.

Similar to the Galician word “saudade,” “hiraeth” is a Welsh word referring to the longing one feels for a home one cannot go back to. I reflected on the degree of conviction required in order to make an indelible mark on one’s own body. Acknowledging such a sentiment predicates a self-assigned exile that is not to be confused with displacement or dispossession in which the subject lacks the luxury of choice. A pre-existing level of privilege conditions self-assigned exile. However, it also places its subjects in their own category within the overarching umbrella of a diaspora.

In a lot of ways, “hiraeth” became the subject underlying many of our conversations. Speaking with Hind, I felt like I had found a mirror voice. Unlike, others I’ve met before her, Hind does not long for a home she sees through rose-colored glasses. The statement does not necessarily speak to all those in her age group who have left the country. That said, hers is an opinion that I have encountered among many. While the longing for a home persists, it is also amalgamated to an understanding that home will have to be elsewhere.

Can there be a way back once you’ve left? The bigger question is: would you want it? Within that context, the idea of defining identity resurfaces. Expatriation implies a certain negotiation of one’s identity and a perpetual editing process that stems from events and people encountered in a foreign setting radically different than the one that the expat had been immersed in since birth.

We started spending more time together as the weeks were leading up to her yearly visit back home. I was invited to her apartment by the Moulin Rouge. The voyeur in me gleans all the little details: books, the disco ball in the living room, the photographs on closet doors. There’s something oddly joyous about building the puzzle of a person’s life based on the clues they leave in their environment. Entering another person’s world is both gleeful and terrifying. It supposes agreeing to carry some of their secrets but implies also a camaraderie without which photographs would fail.

 

Lara Atallah

Lara Atallah (born Beirut, Lebanon, based in Brooklyn, NY) is a visual artist working with photography. You can find the full list of blog posts from her Paris residency here. Additional images from Lara's residency are on Instagram, #paristearsheets.

 

(All images: Lara Atallah)



Posted by Lara Atallah on 8/14 | tags: photography Paris Tear Sheets hiraeth saudade lebanese diaspora artist-in-residence Georgia Fee artist residency #paristearsheets tattoos

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20140820193740-japan_7 Thank you
What an amazing word and concept. Thank you.


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