Home Away From Home
Home Away From Home
Born in Gaza in 1966, Taysir Batniji has lived and worked in Paris since 1995. Torn between two countries, two cultures, and two worlds, Batniji’s multimedia artistic practice deals with exile, memory and identity. Political and social questions are addressed through autobiographical notes that highlight these themes with a subtle and poetic tone.
Taysir Batniji studied Fine Art at Al Najah University in Nablus, Palestine and at the School of Arts in Bourges, France. In recent years he has held solo exhibitions at Les Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie, Arles (2018), Aperture Foundation, New York (2018), Contemporary Art Space Andre? Malraux,, Colmar (2016), Espace Culturel Robert de Lamanon, Colmar (2016), Cultural Center Salon de Provence, Marseille (2013), Musee d'Art et d'Histoire, Geneva (2007) and Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2004). His works were shown in the following group exhibitions: Boghossian Foundation, Brussels (2018), Mulhouse Art Center - Mulhouse (2017), Wu?rttembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart (2017), Valencia Institute of Modern Art, Valencia (2016), Center Pompidou (2014). He participated in the Venice Biennale in 2011, 2009 and 2003. His works are part of prominent collections – to name a few – Center Georges Pompidou, Paris; Victoria & Albert Museum, London and Kunsthalle Wien.
The exhibition includes Gaza - Journal intime # 3, 1999-2006, a photo series that talks of birthplaces and adopted homes, past and present, memories and reality. These images from Gaza capture daily life, highlighting its uncertainty through the choice of subjects, such as a cheerful fisherman on a boat against the abandoned, conflict-ridden stripe along the beach. The old home and the new exist under the same sun, and are both lined by the sea.
Home Away From Home is part of a project commissioned by the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès and Aperture Foundation. During his visit, Batniji documented the lives of his relatives through a series of photographs, which trace the story of the artist’s four cousins and their families living in the United States. The images – portraits of people, photos of houses, shots of interiors – map personal fragments of the past and present while speaking of assimilation, displacement and homeland. They also question plural identities, blending roots, culture and religion with purposeful integration efforts. Putting these images in perspective, a composition of photographs, watercolours and drawings depicts Batniji’s family home in Gaza. A palm tree only visible on the drawings once stood in the centre of the garden. It has been cut down long time ago and the house now appears abandoned. Like the uprooted palm tree, the family writes its history now from afar and across countries.
Home of Ahmed Batniji
West Palm Beach, Florida
"Ahmed arrived in the United States in 1983 via Beirut and Abu Dhabi. After initially moving to California, he eventually settled in Florida. He is married to Najia, who was born in Morocco, and with whom he has three children: Saleem, the oldest; Yasmine; and Safa, the youngest."
Home of Dr. Akram Batniji and his sons
"After graduating from high school in Qatar, Akram studied medicine in Germany. He moved to the United States in 1994 and completed his medical exams and certification in New York and Florida, where he lived for several years with his Palestinian wife Sahar. In 2016, he moved to California in order to enroll his children Ameer, Morad, Omar, and Amer) full time at an Islamic school in Anaheim."
Home of Dr. Kamal Batniji
Newport Coast, California
"My cousin Kamal is a successful physician, married to Turkya, who is Jordanian by origin. They arrived in the United States in 1968, following his graduation from medical school in Cairo in 1964. He went on to study at Albany Medical College, New York, graduating in 1973. That same year, he joined the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, where he continues his practice today. He and Turkya have five children: Rola, Nathalie, Rami, Tarek, and Omar."
Home of Dr. Sobhi and Khadra Batniji
Laguna Niguel, California
"Dr. Sobhi Batniji summoned his wife, Khadra Batniji, to leave Gaza in 1967 and to join him in Saudi Arabia. Khadra is the fourth of my American cousins and sister of Ahmed, who lives in Florida. She and Sobhi moved permanently to California in 1981, following stays in Saudia Arabia, Egypt, and Abu Dhabi. Together they have four children, Khaled, Mouna, Tamer, and Ahmed, most of whom were born prior to their arrival in the United States. Sobhi is also a close cousin of mine, as our fathers are brothers."
Home of Dr. Samir Batniji
Diamond Bar, California
"Dr. Samir Batniji arrived in the United States in 1984, after completing his medical degree in Cairo. He is married to Enaam, with whom he has four children: Raed, Nermine, Rajaie, and Ruba, and one grandchild."