Simon Pope | Toronto Waterfront artist-in-residence 2023

Sitting still, in motion

Shuaa and I met at Waterpark place to record her recollections of a view from the house in Ghana, where her family relocated after leaving Syria. I'd met with Shuaa two weeks ago to run through what she would describe: she had prepared a description of the place – initially from memory, and subsequently enhanced through looking at photographs that members of her family had taken.

In making this video, I'm interested in establishing a contrast between the dynamic outdoor space being described in the audio track and the stillness of the image of Shuaa within an interior space – alluding to the tensions between the imaginary of those of us who have migrated, and our embodied experience of the place where we now live.

…Right from the kitchen window you can look at nothing but vast areas of beautiful tall evergreen trees and right in the center was a small shallow pond that reflected the beautiful colors of the surrounding trees. From where we looked, we could see where the green forest met the clear blue sky, the view was so serene and unrealistically beautiful it felt like you were looking at a painting especially at sunset when the sun sunk into the forest leaving behind a flaming sky rich in a melange of all shades of red, orange, and yellow. The sunset brought incredible tranquility a sense of certainty that as the end of the day is announced a promise of another is given. Nothing beat that view and all the feelings it brought.

Coincidentally, immediately after recording Shuaa, I listened to the lastest episode of Thinking Allowed, a BBC Radio 4 programme discussing the experience of Syrian refugees and asylum seekers as they made their new home in the UK and Canada. The programme featured an interview with Vicki Squire, Professor of International Politics at the University of Warwick (UK), one of the editors of the book Migration, Culture and Identity: Making Home Away. Politics of Citizenship and Migration (2022).

A view from the house in Ghana (photo courtesy of S. Aldroubi)

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