Diary of Eve’s Land

Diary of Eve’s land – Trailer
1:44 HD
Production 2023-2024  WIP

Grant supported by Allotment Travel Award
Special thanks to Saudi Ethnographic Diary

Diary of Eve’s Land is a video installation project encompassing 5 short films. It tells the stories of 5 Saudi women, and their daily struggles to balance the expectations of conservative society with their own personal aspirations. They are a divorced psychologist, a pediatrician, a nursing student, a manager of a startup IT company and an immigrant girl who can not go out without her father’s permission. Even though there are restrictions in all of their environments, each character describes how she thinks about her life and profession. Jeddah, the second biggest city of the country, which I visited in fall 2023, is undergoing rapid development, with new contemporary buildings appearing day by day under the stream of the government project “Saudi Vision 2030”. This stream has been improving the position of women in society and has been changing radically over the past years. Encountering them brought me continuous surprise, and I discovered unknown aspects of this country which are still hidden from our European and Asian perspective. I stayed there for 3 weeks between November and December 2023. This project has been selected by the Allotment Travel Award by a Japanese foundation in 2023

It was Sally who first told me about the city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. I remember her telling me: 
– It comes from جدة, Jaddah, the Arabic word for “grandmother” and also this name would come from the fact that Eve, considered the grandmother of Humanity, would be buried in Jeddah

I met Sally in the spring of 2022, during her artist residency in Paris. Sally is a painter as well as an architect, and works for a Saudi agency on an equal footing with her male colleagues. Sally then introduced me to her friends and one of her sisters. Zeina, Asmaa, Rouaa were graphic designers, psychiatrists, … Their presence and vision of life shifted my preconceived ideas of this country. I also saw similarities with Japan, where I come from. What all these women had in common was that they came from Jeddah. 

The starting point for my artistic work is events and encounters of my personal life, my intimate life even. A conversation with Sally about marital pressures in Saudi Arabia reminds her of the similarities with Japan, particularly in terms of framed expectations about our roles and futures. 

Sally once told me that her sister didn’t want to return to Saudi Arabia. She had just obtained a PhD in psychiatry in the United States, and had a beautiful career ahead of her back home, but she felt she was too old to have any hope of finding a husband. It was a question I had also asked myself in 2013, the year I graduated from the École Supérieure des Beaux-arts in Montpellier. I replied: 

– In Japan, it’s the same thing, at 33 you’re an old maid! The best I can hope for over there is an old man or an idiot. And he would have asked me every day why I was still studying!

D-day

Diary Drawing _ No. 2752_ July 7th, 2004
Size: 21 x 29,7cm, oil and pencil on paper
Twenty years ago there was a woman…

We all deserve cassatta ice-creams

My sister, friend,

 said she was feeling sad

through a WhatsApp message,

sitting in Delhi,

occupying the last few days 

offered to her by the house

 she used to live in

for the last 5 years.

I had returned from a hot day  at my institute

to the shade at home in Palakkad

craving some ice cream.

I ordered  for her a cassatta ice cream

and a nice body wash,

whose smell reminded me of 

a very old smell of oil,

through a delivery app.

My partner and I are returning to our small town

the following week,

on a highway,

from a big city;

he remarked that there are too many trucks on the road

since these online delivery companies

have taken over the world.

My friend felt very touched when she received the ice-cream,

she told me on a video call immediately after.

She shared it with her friend,

and forgot to share a picture with me.

I felt happy too.

What did people do before the time of telephones?

Would the sadness have disappeared 

by the time a letter reached the other side of the country?

Maybe women of a certain age could never  be alone.

Maybe women did not talk to other women who were not family.

Maybe loving vicariously and getting hurt by someone never existed beyond a secret.

Maybe they all deserved cassatta ice creams without delivery apps

We all deserve cassatta ice creams, despite delivery apps.

Cassatta icecreams, shaped like a rainbow, but not with all colours in it…

Another friend texts me, she is a mother too;

She asks me how I am taking everything,

that is happening in another part of the world

Gaza

She cannot go by a day without it shaking her

I recently went through a surgery

I lay awake the whole of last month

after the surgery

Now  there is embodied pain and real wounds in my uterus

to blame my sleeplessness for

What will happen when I heal?

Will nightmares of Gaza cease?

Will nightmares of impending election results stop?

I have not replied to my friend yet.

Two kittens— white and grey and white and ginger

 sleep peacefully on the net by my bedroom balcony.

They have grown up here on the roof;

Their multicoloured mother has not taken them down to  the earth

keeping them safe, until she will not return one day.

They will sleep until the next moment;

it is raining;

thunder will strike soon.

They are always anxious

not knowing what to expect next from this world

They sleep, yet.

June 2024, Kerala

Dagger carved by an inmate

Poignard sculpté par un détenu,  Abbaye de Fontevraud, XXème siècle, 7 juin 2024.
Dagger carved by an inmate, Fontevraud Abbey, 20th century, June 7, 2024.
 

Un poignard pour scier les barreaux de ta cellule, un poignard pour mettre fin à ta vie prisonnière, un poignard pour aiguiser ta révolte, un poignard pour fendre ta solitude, un poignard pour graver les jours qui passent, pour écrire, pour blesser, pour te défendre, pour crier en silence, pour donner à voir ton vrai visage, pour avouer tout le sang coulé, pour le faire couler encore, un poignard en lame de résistance.

A dagger to saw the bars of your cell, a dagger to put an end to your prisoner life, a dagger to sharpen your revolt, a dagger to break through your solitude, a dagger to engrave the days that pass, to write, to wound, to defend yourself, to scream in silence, to show your true face, to admit all the blood shed, to make it flow again, a dagger as a blade of resistance.

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