HOTEL HELLAS (ongoing since 2017)
"Home is not where you were born. Home is where all your attempts to escape cease."
Since my family's migration to Athens from the Lebanese civil war in 1976 & 1989, my relationship to Athens and Greece evolved through the years into a impermanent place of Return.
Those images and dialogues convey fugitive presence glimpses of that attempt to visit a fictional homeland, an ephemeral past existence in perpetual exile, instant projections of a worn nostalgia, and the death of a precarious chronology of History.
They are mostly fragile strands of an unfinished poem, dedicated to singing the ruins of belonging, in a time of war.
Once back home, how can you look at your own tired face, sick and ravaged by the trip?
Depuis la migration de ma famille à Athènes de la guerre civile libanaise en 1976 et 1989, ma relation avec la Grèce a évolué au fil des années en un lieu impermanent du Retour.
Ces images et dialogues véhiculent des aperçus de présence fugitive, de cette tentative de visiter une patrie fictive, une existence éphémère passée en perpétuel exil, les projections instantanées d'une nostalgie usée et la mort d'une chronologie précaire de l'Histoire.
Ils sont principalement les traces fragiles d'un poème inachevé, consacré à chanter les ruines de l'appartenance, en temps de guerre.
Une fois de retour à la maison, comment regarder son propre visage fatigué, malade et ravagé par le voyage?
Από τη μετανάστευση της οικογένειάς μου στην Αθήνα το 1976 και το 1989, κατά τη διάρκεια του εμφυλίου πολέμου του Λιβάνου, η σχέση μου με την Ελλάδα εξελίχθηκε με την πάροδο των χρόνων σε ένα μόνιμο τόπο Επιστροφής.
Αυτές οι εικόνες και τα κείμενα μεταδίδουν μια φαινομενική παρουσία, μιας άλλης αποτυχημένης προσπάθειας να επισκεφτώ μια φανταστική πατρίδα, μια εφήμερη περασμένη ύπαρξη σε διαρκή εξορία, στιγμιαίες προβολές μιας φθαρμένης νοσταλγίας και το θάνατο μιας επισφαλούς χρονολόγησης της Ιστορίας.
Είναι ως επί το πλείστον, εύθραυστα σκέλη ενός ημιτελούς ποιήματος, αφιερωμένα στο τραγούδι των ερειπίων του ανήκειν, σε μια εποχή πολέμου.
Πίσω στο σπίτι, πώς μπορεί κανείς να εξετάσει το δικό του κουρασμένο σώμα, άρρωστο και λεηλατημένο από το ταξίδι;
- Many pigeons landed on Noah's ark today!
- But no sign of life on board ...
- A politician once told me that Greece is a ship sailing on a sea of olive oil.
- I guess now it is sailing on an ocean of rooms for rent!
- They came to Amorgos from Palestine about 1300 years ago to save a holy Icon.
- My ancestors came from New Zealand but I was born and grew up here.
- What have I really become here?
- An uprooted migrant impatient to die, if I judge from your looks.
- How did he describe the spirit of a woman who walked and encouraged the defenders of the besieged city of Missolonghi?
- In the same way he described the beauty of spring.
- Are you always carrying around a backpack?
- I often come across a figure, mirroring my image, and it's always with a backpack.
- You often come here, but never with a fishing rod?
- For one terrible night, my friend, this white boat was my only hope for a better future in Europe. Today I walk here all the way from the camp, to watch my "hope" sinking slowly slowly in this beautiful bay looking at the fish trapped in those "concentration camps".
- I came here just for the luxury view and the swimming pool!
- You just came to forget who you are.
- At the monument for Asia Minor Catastrophe the stairs lead to a stone blocking the entrance!
- Isn't this what always happen to all immigrants?
- Go get a haircut and come join the family!
- But I prefer to be alone.
- One day I will return home!
- Try to knock at any door on your way back and may be you will already be there...
- I wonder how summer will end this year ?
- When autumn comes, I guess...
- You did some pretty bad things in your life!
- But now I'm retired and resting here on this wild island of the Aegean.
- I wish I knew how to fish like you!
- Now that we've become friends, don't leave me!
- Because we became friends, I will abandon you. Maybe one day I would come back as an enemy.
- More and more tanker ships are parked here!
- But the Chinese will give us the title of the biggest port in the Mediterranean, in few years.
- What is so Ancient and precious about those Eleusis stones?
- Since the time or people who took shelter in their shade are gone, I suppose!
- What's that monument about?
- Sister, I dreamt last night of our refuge, the Larco hotel, in Larnaca, back in 1983!
- Were you playing video games in the lobby?
- Have you ever dreamt of a new beginning?
- I dream of ruins, ashes, burnt land, and Justice.
- Do not worry about things that can be fixed.
- But also don't worry about things that can not be fixed.
- Luck has abandoned us!
- Faith in luck will never abandon us, my friend.
- Why don't you look at me?
- In your foreign gaze I see my Cain's face!
- I sometimes find refuge in the silence of Athens' churches.
- But saints are easier to find on the streets, wrapped up in their tiredness.
- Where do that choked scream come from?
- From the last cry of a slaughtered goat - τράγος, origin of the word tragedy - τραγωδία, birthplace of songs - τραγούδια.
- My home city seems void of hospitality!
- There are also times that we will feel as foreigners in an abandoned hotel.
- I came back from travel to find an empty refrigerator!
- It stayed empty since you emigrated, waiting for you.
- Can you see your city being abandoned by its citizens?
- Only when I cry, I can.
- When was your last Christmas holiday?
- Before the fall of the Empire.
- They burned my home, my garden & my landscape!
- You burned yourself, your present and future and remained surrounded by the remains of your past.
- I wanted to gaze at your magnificence but your beautiful veil caught my attention.
- Do not expect me to undress for your eyes.
- How did you end up here, on this gloomy august day?
- Ask the heart-weather forecast!
-Don't be shy, let us kiss. I'm not the only black sheep around!
- But you're older than me...
- Rubble upon rubble this the only thing I remember.
- Oblivion you mean. Ιt manifests itself in a place like this as our collective memory.
- Summer is coming and going and I still can't build my own sea view apartment, before it's definitely blocked!
- Stop complaining and enjoy suntanning.
- Let's do a selfie to send to your son.
- I constantly send him selfies but he never says anything!
- What kind of hospitality is offering just unlimited time and shade!
- Their state of limbo is our shame.
- Who are you running away from?
- I've been so many years in this wilderness that I stopped running, now I walk.
- Imagine we were walking on a slow pace and heavy steps!
- I wonder if we had the power to drag to our rhythm some of those fast forward tourists in Athens.
- I bowed to the difficulties of the crisis.
- Try to stay grounded in your convictions for the future, because the storm will eventually die out!
- Summer is at the gates!
- What a beautiful landscape!
- I can only see a mirror of my own ruins.
- Are you still longing for your homeland, my dear?
- I'm just listening to the exiled twittering of those nightingales.
- Where are you walking to, foreigner?
- Please don't go!
- I'm not leaving anywhere, I just don't want to see you anymore.
- As if someone had built a nest to hide us here!
- Let's look each other in the eyes, as if it were the only homeland we know.
- Are we at the gates of the promised land?
- There we are. And a strange receptionist, with his red mantle is guarding the entrance.
(Samos, Greece, August 4–September 30, 2019 )