Re-archive I

  • Exhibited at Gallery 44, Toronto, 2020

Re-archive is an attempt to bridge past and present. In the aftermath of the war in Iraq, the physical spaces of our childhood have been obliterated, family members have been dispersed, and photo albums and other repositories of our collective memory have been lost. This, coupled with a lack of information and an inability to return home, have created a harsh disconnection with the past.

In this context, Re-archive provokes questions about the different meanings of home. It juxtaposes archival fragments with photographs of reconstructed scenes curated around specific nostalgic triggers, such as a bird cage, or a flowering tree. The landscapes and objects we photograph are pieces of the past that can be found somewhere other than home. We use them to create a kind of utopia: a “no place” of childhood, memory, and home. Thus, to re-archive is to restore memories and feelings, through the creation of newly re-imagined archival material.

Short poems written in collaboration with Jessica Parish

Collaboration with Ria Al Amin 


Shock of an intimate memory in an unfamiliar place

Patient snapdragons, vines strangle the wooden fence

They welcomed us home as we returned from school

Ah! The sounds of birds singing our names,

The scents of jasmine and rose

Hiding, floating under the orange tree

As we play, twirl, and sing


There are holes in these walls

They remind me of the scars of war,

Which I saw on other walls, other doors

That somehow still protected

The warmth inside

Nurturing, burning, the fire of love

Where are the people who used to live there?

They feel so far away now, I can only dream

Of hoping of dreaming

I may one day return

Questions for a Palm Tree

I stand before this palm tree, a stranger swaying, exhaling gently

I ask: do you know what became of my grandfather’s trees?

Three stood tall and proud in the garden

Like old friends we loved them

Their soft fronds gathered us together

Their dappled shade is the backdrop of our memories

How can they call to me across such an expanse?

Tell me tree, will we ever meet again?

And be gathered in the arms of my grandfather’s trees