This work is a continuation on themes of loss, identity and community that form the basis of Yossri’s practice. Here the artist uses formations made from soil to more specifically explore notions of memory, identity and belonging, particularly in reference to the physical inaccessibility of his homeland, Palestine. The circular forms of these soil ‘collages’ reduces the complexity of the subject to an immedi- ate and simple emblem. For the artist, who has struggled to return to his homeland, Kafer Malek in Ramallah, Palestine, this soil holds boundless significance. The soil was taken by his cousin from his father’s land, and brought to the artist via pilgrims partaking in the Hajj. Here he questions the importance of this soil, of why it represents so much when in fact it is simply earth. On a visit to Berlin, the artist visited the Berlin Wall. Unable to visit his own homeland, circled and restricted by boundary walls, the experience triggered a particular resonance for him. Here, in this European city, Jews had been expelled and limited whilst across the globe, Muslims were undergoing a similar fate. Taking soil from both plots and placing them adjacent as circles, he plays on both the similarities within these repeated histories and the oppositional forces at play. The circles here reference community, inclusion and exclusion, territories and boundary lines. He is exploring the futility of resolution when history is bound by repetitious and endless cycles.
Soil Berlin (left)
A second that separated death from life. A second that didn’t resemble the Berlin Wall... Nor the Gaza Wall... A second that split me in two, and between them one wall was erected, cold and depressed... One second that was enough...
Soil Palestine (right)
This soil originates from my homeland (Kafer Malek) in Ramallah in Palestine. I always wondered about the significance of a handful of earth from my homeland? What meaning does it have? And why? Why do I insist on placing them in a circle shape? And why do I initially care? A few years ago my cousin succeeded in taking them from my father’s land and they were sent to me by pilgrims, my homeland, a paradise that echoes in me whenever I’m unable to visit it...Palestine. However, I haven’t forgotten my first fall and I will never forget it. I will keep my head up all my life, and I won’t allow it to fall again whatever happens, my head being the most precious thing I have. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.