28 years old
I never had the chance to visit a contemporary art museum before. Up to now, the only art I knew was ancient art. I’m glad that through this program I can become familiar with contemporary art as well, and learn some new things. However, I think a work of art should be beautiful and relax you when you look at it. I also want to be able to understand what the artist is trying to say through the work.
In Bottari, Kimsooja perhaps wants to tell a story of love or joy or sadness, or one that has to do with refugees. These are things that have always engaged people. But still, we’d have a better idea of what the work is talking about if the bundles were open and we could see what’s hidden inside. Also, the fabrics she used and the designs she embroidered on them perhaps weren’t from her country but are fabrics and bundles that people all over the world use. In Syria, for example, women usually wrap their things in their headscarf or, in the old days, when a woman got married, she would receive her dowry wrapped in a similar cloth of pure white. And when the farmers went out to work, they’d put their food or clothes in a bundle like that. So, I think the artist wants to convey a universal message through this piece.
Do-Ηo Suh’s work with the staircase1 gives you the sense it’s probably about the artist’s dream of being in another world, perhaps in Paradise. I think it’s because the way the work is lit; the lighting is diffuse and bright and calming. Furthermore, the staircase is made of fabric, which is very light and obviously not solid enough to step on and climb. Besides, when we dream, our footsteps don’t feel heavy. Finally, the staircase is higher than the ground, precisely to show that the work isn’t about the real world but a world we can enter from our dreams.
The work reminded me of a dream I used to have when I was young. I would dream that I was climbing a ladder and when I got near the top, I’d fall down. There was no one around. As I was falling, I felt that I was going to die but, in the end, I wasn’t hurt. I still have dreams with ladders and falling off roofs.
However, both works—Kimsooja’s and Do-Ηo Suh’s—seem to be referring to the past as well as to the present.
I live in Kypseli now, in a flat I share with three other roommates. It’s the first time I’m living with people who aren’t members of my family. But it doesn’t bother me. In fact, I’ve become friends with some of the guys. The only problem is that oftentimes a roommate will leave with the relocation programme and another will come and take his place. Having to say goodbye like that upsets me, especially when I lose a roommate I’ve become close friends with.
The reason I don’t like farewells is that, in Syria, I lost my mother and many close friends, people I trusted and could rely on for support. I don’t want to lose anyone else in my life, and when I see families on the street, tears come to my eyes.
A lot of times, the things I’ve experienced make me feel lonesome, and I often sit by myself and cry. When I saw Do-Ho Suh’s staircase hanging there so high and isolated from the rest of the space, I imagined that there was a chair up there and I was sitting on it, far from everyone and everything. People often feel alone, even when they’re with a lot of other people, and that’s the worst feeling. It’s exhausting. But when you find yourself isolated somewhere, you’re forced to confront what it means to be truly alone, and this awareness liberates and comforts you.
In Vlassis Caniaris’ work2 I could see that Greeks in the past had gone through experiences like the ones I went through, leaving my country to come here. I remembered a saying we have, life is a wheel that comes around. What I’m going through now could happen to someone else tomorrow. Of course, it’s also significant that the artist chose to depict a game that’s played on one foot. But while you may play hopscotch on one foot, in real life you eventually have to stand on your own two feet.
Most of the suitcases in the work are not only closed, they’re also bound with rope. It shows how much the owner of the suitcase values the few things hidden inside and how much he wants to protect them. The same is true for all of us. We each hide things inside us that we don’t share with anyone else. Anyway, a person doesn’t have to reveal everything; he might want to keep his memories and feelings stored in his heart and mind.
I don’t understand what’s written on the squares of the work. When we play this game in Syria, we put a number in each square. Maybe Caniaris wrote the names of countries in his squares. On the other hand, if the work had to do with Syria, I’d write the names of the armed groups that destroyed my country.
Despite the difficult conditions I’ve experienced, I still have dreams for the future. My dream is to be able to study. In fact, if I could afford it, I’d study all my life. I enjoy studying, and I wouldn’t have a problem, whatever the subject. But maybe I’d probably choose computers, with the idea of becoming a network engineer. A Greek friend of mine suggested I go into marketing because it gives you the chance to build relations with a lot of people. Of course, foreign languages are also extremely important. I’ve learned, though, that you have to approach your studies step by step. If you try to do everything at once, you’ll get lost and bogged down.
That’s why I want to make a start somewhere.
1 Refers to Staircase II, 2004.
2 Refers to the work Hopscotch, 1974.