An on going project driven by the sense of segregation in religion, culture and gender that I experienced as a child in Saudi Arabia, as well as the wish to find a place I can fit in regardless of belief.
As a third culture individual, I often wonder if home is the place where you physically spent the most of your life? Is it a place you feel you belong to? Or is simply a country that you are a citizen of?
The judgmental way of life that I was forced to be part of as a child was the catalyst that led me to pick up a camera and use it to connect with people I had previously not been able allowed to accept. Rather than understanding myself, I turned to my subjects, females such as myself who had recently moved to New York City from a different background than my own.
To find these women, I started with my immediate circle of acquaintances, and then began to reach out to strangers. I ask them all if they felt they had been able to find comfort to New York City. I asked them if they now belonged here and if they still missed home. In asking these questions I discovered our similarities as females, regardless of origin. Through the selection process I noticed my interest in photographing women only, perhaps also a reaction to the gender inequality I faced growing up in the Middle East.
As I went on to make the portraits itself, I directed my subjects to think about their formative experience in their culture of origin – good and bad. I found myself almost subconsciously placing them next to a window. I came to the revelation that I was trying to find myself in others, that the photographs were introspective, and almost like self-portraits. They was me sitting by the window as a child, locked up in our ‘home’ in Jeddah, wondering if I were to leave this place, would I ever be able to find another land I could honestly call home.
The “layers” I incorporate into these images after shooting the portraits themselves are meant to evoke the very thoughts and feelings of my subjects. These layers consist of places and patterns I have fallen in love with since my move to New York City. In fact sense, these “internal” images represent the process of coming to accept a new culture as one’s own. But they are also saying that inside each displaced one is an abundance of emotion, thought and experience that in many is cultures is never allowed to come out.