Migration involves loss. Migrants move with the future in mind but stop by what they left behind. It is not just your family and friends; it is way deeper than what you think. Missing all those small talks in mother language, family gatherings, familiar hands, birthdays, weddings, funerals, accents, attitudes, values, social structures and supporting network seem not a big deal but they become your loss. All these shapes your identity, losing them equals with losing someone who is known as “you”.
You arrive to your “paradise”. It takes time but after a basic observation of your surroundings, you begin to compare your origin with “paradise”. Actually, positive points are bigger than negative ones but everything that was value back home, is not here anymore. Your network is smaller, your accent is “cute”, hands are unfamiliar (sometimes a bit cold) and you need to adjust yourself to new structure. In fact, your identity what you knew until now, need to be altered. “culture shock” , “confusion in destination” or what you name is activated.
After years, you are integrated! All those confronting feelings are gone but still
there is a need to go back for something that is left behind. You are searching for your
identity I guess, something that shaped you as person and still is there.
You go back “home”. Nostalgia is activated. You arrive, so many welcoming arms are
open. You talk again in your mother language but missing the right words, you find the
same hands but some are gone for ever, values are changed as the generation changes
and you should be lucky if there is still a network. Change is not always in outside world, but most of the time in ourselves. Adaption put a cover of dust on your old values, attitudes and structures. It is hard to confess that “home” is not place that you expect to be.
You get to the point that you don’t also belong “home” anymore, But hardly to “paradise”. Realizing that you are floating between these two worlds, gives you a mix feeling of joy, fear, uncertainty and strayed. Let’s make one thing clear. These ‘worlds’ may not necessarily be two different physical spaces but just in your head.
Migrants have to navigate between two different sets of cultures, mentalities, rules, regulations, customs, and whatnot. They are quasi-outsiders in a liminal zone, trying to find a comprehensive identity that is the sum of these two separate experiences. They are trying to foray into a brave new world, while, at the same time, attempting to find a sense of familiarity in the smallest of things. It’s no easy feat.
Personally, floating between these two worlds gives me joy. discovering my identity somewhere that is not physically existed but millions of people are experiencing it with their own definition.
Immigrant integration has become a major policy issue in some host countries, and the
academic and artistic community has generated much research, experiment and artworks as solution, idea or experience for this phenomenon. However, the psychological effect of immigration for individuals are bigger than our imagination.
The process of immigration, has different distinct but interrelated aspects—it has a felt
quality, undergone at the level of intense and sometimes unconscious feelings and sensibility; it involves a series of reactions, sometimes in the form of shocking confrontations, with a new environing reality in which you must establish a new system of relations with strangers; with unknown people and places; and it involves a profound change and also sometime an outright disruption, in the general direction of your personal life, as guided by aims and aspirations.
Though all these aspects are hard to experience, integration is going to happen in a
specific amount of time. It is not necessarily to lose your core but creating a “perfectly”
adapted character to new environment is the key. “core”, what is that? Your core consists of all those families, friends, attitudes, values and social structures which have deep unbreakable roots in your identity.
I tend to think it’s worth keeping in mind that countries and nationality are only social
constructs which do not physically exist, and in particular that from a biological perspective we are all of the same race. Once this is accepted then we will realize our responsibility is towards the planet as a whole and not to an arbitrary part or aspect of it… and perhaps we would be more celebratory of our quasi-outsiders.
However, what is “perfect adaption”? It involves the balancing of their heritage culture
and the culture of the society of settlement.
This project which I named Choub (in Persian language it means wood) challenges “perfect adaption” in destination society and my practice will address personal vision about process of integration. With this project, I would like to show in poetic way how migration shapes personal characters.
This project is a wearable clothing collection made of wood (plywood 4 mm), designed
and generated by CAD programs. This collection consists of eight looks, 16 garments with different functions and meaning. The ultimate goal is to make material possible to move like a woven fabric.
From abstract point of view, I took a migrant as a piece of wood, likely unconventional
and inappropriate for a wearable garment (new social structure). The same story for a
migrant, you arrive to your destination and the first impression is that you don’t feel fitted in new society as you did before. Stepping from known to unknown and it needs to shape other qualities in your character (It feels the same as this pandemic; we live in a world which is unknown. To survive we need to adapt but is that possible for everyone?)
Shaping and training the material for new structure (plywood for clothing), is a symbolic
integration that happens for a migrant in destination. The core of person always stays the same (hard like wood) as it was but he is trained/ adapted for a new environment.
From technical point of view, Technology is a tool for my material manipulation. With
help of 3D programs, I design different repetitive dessins and constructions, which I cut
with a laser cut machine, it helps plywood to be flexible. Wood remains wood, but its
archetype image as a hard material has changed in this project. Story focuses on a crossover between art, science, technology and craftsmanship.