With this sculpture the artist draws attention to the plight of Syrian children. Hayat is an Arabic name that means life. Hayat could be any ordinary girl in Syria, not so different from a little girl in the “West”. Before the civil war, she went to school, practiced her faith, played with her friends and went about the business of everyday life. Since then, her life has been turned upside down. She had to leave her home. Every day is a struggle to survive and she is growing up in a world filled with violence, danger and uncertainty.
The sculpture “Hayat” is part of the series “Language as Home” in which the artist explores how the different languages we come into contact during our life influence our own identity and self-perception. The movement of people from one home to another for different purposes, such as conflicts, natural disasters, employment or education, effects the way we relate to our mother tongue, which is often like the skin, unconditionally present and so easily injured.
The encounter with a new language is a decisive experience and make us realise that the world looks different in another language than it does in our own one. As writer Herta Mueller suggests “behind every language there are other eyes”. This allows the discovery of a linguistic universe different from the native inherited linguistic space. The mother tongue ceases to be the measure of all things as its view is continuously confronted with the “seen differently” of the other language/s. This divergence between words and things then creates a space between languages, which becomes a metaphor for a fragmented identity.
When you leave your homeland you also leave behind the comfort of the so well known mother tongue. Is moving into a different linguistic space an enrichment? Is it threatening? What are the implications if your mother tongue is the language of the enemy, or the language of uprooted and unwanted?