When you take the first step towards the unknown, you are engulfed by the darkness of uncertainty. Co-existence is possible only in the face of the unrecognised. The unknown language is a tangled mass through which you penetrate with despair. It is a structure of sense and nonsense, an architecture of traps and a source of endless uncertainty. The story you tell contains a record of fear and hope.

Aneta Szylak and Hiwa K., fragment taken from "The Darkness Wounded" published at www.przemo-wojciechowski.com

Estrangement shows itself precisely in the elimination of distance between people.
Theodor Adorno

But we are meaning in the sense that we are the element in which significations can be produced and circulate.
Jean-Luc Nancy

The concept of Estrangement developed through a series of discussions and collaborative projects between Iraqi artist Hiwa K. and Polish curator Aneta Szylak as an attempt to create a form for mutual translation and collaborative work that is not restricted to one cultural format.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Cooking with Mama by Hiwa K.

About cooking with Mama

In summer 2006 there were already four years without seeing my mom after I left Iraq when I organized this event in the kitchen at the Art Academy in Mainz, Germany, for the first time. This cooking event was the first encounter with how I feel when seeing her after so many years apart.

For me, to involve somebody who is so related to me for so many years into my work via internet is a mixture of many things not that easy to embrace them by using words.

There was such a distance to her, and in spite of my longing to see her it made me quite uncertain how to continue with this digital Mama. Is it her or not? That is what I was asking myself the whole time.

Sure it was Mama, demanding as she used to be, when we were cooking together at home. I was to be polite, listening to her, following the instructions and translating properly her commands to my cooking team (we cook every Friday for the whole academy). Our times in kitchen at home are replaced today with cooking with my friends. Today, the only way I could get back the emotions connected to cooking with her is to contact her through Internet messenger. I felt very intimate with the cooking team, who are good friends of mine. So being in the position of translating a certain food structure which is hundreds years old and is coming from definitely another reality and different way of understanding digitalization, I experienced the extended intimacy of my Moms environment. I was translating from my language to another European language, helping the team to cook what I have been eating for so many years. Sharing this taste with all students of the academy was creating another space which goes beyond the art school as an institution. Its was closeness, about sharing, about understanding the others.