When the core culture of a place is nomadic- one of transience- it stands to reason that the place in question has never permanently belonged to anyone and that no one has belonged to it. Historically, nomads have inhabited spaces, not places. Therefore, the term expatriate, with regard to such a place, should signify inclusion; a nod to nomad-ism, to its core culture and history.
But what happens in such a place when the notion of transience gets confused with that of replaceable? When people are no longer seen to be passing through but as biding time until they are replaced. I see this in Dubai, a nomadic land now permanently belonging to those nomads who used to move with its shifting sand but are now as rigid and unmoving as the buildings that replaced it.
This is the first place I’ve ever called home. But it is a place that will forever call me an expat.
The work, loosely compiled into a series of questions, observations, opinions and passions, interrogates and challenges the concept of the transient (read: replaceable) status of long-term expats in the UAE. It explores the depth of the personal claims they lay on their surroundings, both space and place deep.I explore how my non-white, upper-middle class, female body tries to lay down roots in these temporary spaces, its color, status and curves complicating them even further.
I am intrigued by the concept of tape and how its purpose is to be temporary. It can be colorful or invisible, expensive or cheap, strong or weak but we buy it because we know it can be used and then removed. I choose to use it for how it sticks things together by forcing itself down on other objects. I also like how, when peeled off, it tends to either leave bits of itself behind on the surface or take away bits of the surface with it. Much like an expat, it also occupies a temporary space on a permanent place, many times fighting to hold on when removed.
Through the work, I see two questions arise over and over again, that I have no answers for: if you call a place your home long enough, does it really become home? And is home really where the heart is?