Sabir, 2011

Venues: Dvir Gallery, Jaffa, James Gallery, CUNY, New York City, The Rose Art Museum, Boston, New Zuzeum, Riga, CEPA Gallery, Buffalo, Gallery MOMO, Cape Town. 

“Sabir” comes from the Latin root “to know”, and refers to a vernacular shared by native speakers of many different languages who come in contact. The dialect’s vocabulary draws on all the regional languages, often distorting and reinventing words as they come in contact with the other tongues. The best known of the world’s Sabirs is the dialect of middle-eastern ports, which bears elements of French, Italian, Arabic, Hebrew, Maltese, and Spanish. A sabir dialect is a result of cultural development; it marks a new nation’s arrival. 

Guez uses the term to introduce his grandmother, Samira. Samira’s describes pre-1948 Jaffa, her hometown, and the subsequent departure of most of the city’s Palestinian residents, in a mixture of her mother tongue – Arabic – and her later-acquired Hebrew. While most of her childhood memories are recounted in Arabic, the war and its consequences are described in Hebrew. In the background, the sun sets peacefully against the Jaffa beach. The discrepancy between Samira’s story and the postcard background, with its everyday commotion of surfers, joggers, and dog-walkers, is poignant. The sun’s height in the frame also serves as a visual marker of Samira’s story’s progress and of passing time.Guez's grandmother appears in other works as absent-present. Her voice is heard in the background, but she asks her grandson, Dor, not to photograph her directly. In other video works, such as "Watermelons Under the Bed," "July 13," and "40 Days," she fulfills what she sees as her matriarchal role while navigating and directing the stories of her husband, sons, and grandchildren behind the lens.


 
 
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Video, 19:37 minutes, 2011.
 
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Color transparency in lightbox 80 x 100 cm each, 2011.