The work of Francisca Khamis Giacoman has been largely informed by her diasporic identity. In her videos, performances and workshops she seeks for a perpetuation of connections to places, experiences and people both from her and her ancestors’ past. Through the usage of different visual languages, ranging from veiled, poetic and documentary, Khamis Giacoman explores the values and possibilities of the (oral) transmission and reproduction of memories, while acknowledging their irrevocable loss and the gap that eventually emerges between an imagined past and a present reality.
Central in the artist’s oeuvre is her interest in an in-between state or border consciousness, which arises when one’s roots lie elsewhere, and specifically in the potentialities and the sense of agency this state offers; a fluid, changing identity.
Rosebud #6: Francisca Khamis Giacoman presents two video works that touch upon longing, intergenerational transmissions of memories, belonging and place attachment.
In Carta 2 (2022) loosely filmed fragments of landscapes, festive processions, a grapevine, and shots of horses are combined with short clips of family photos. The footage, recorded with the artist’s camcorder, is of both Chilean and Palestinian origin and dates from the last five years. Carta 2 stems from a series of videos that approach memories and feelings of her, and her family’s past, which Khamis Giacoman exchanged with her friend Carmen Dusmet. Revisiting her video archive and creating these unconcluded, freely mixed compilations enabled her to take in a new perspective. It brought about a dialogue formed by images and sounds, generating experimental video essays or poems.
The video As close as I get (2021) can be understood as a continuation, or a counterpart, of the performance As far as I can remember (2021). In this performance Khamis Giacoman reconstructs the layout of her family house in Palestine by drawing it in full size on the floor while listening to, and retelling, the memories of her great aunt Labibe.
This way she outlines the possibilities to connect with the past, not only on the basis of (her) memory, but also through the body and language. Planting the space elsewhere, wandering through the imaginary rooms and internalizing the memories of Labibe enables fresh, alternative shapes of the memories of this house, while its legacy is fortified every time it is performed or seen.
Where the performance stems from a quest to revive the past by concentrating on a bodily experience and a mental, imaginary space, the video As close as I get is based on an actual revisit of the physical location of the family house in Al-Makhrour, Palestine. Filmed in a style somewhere in between a visual poem and a documentary, we follow the artist in her attempt to find, and then approach, this mythical home, which is neither easy nor harmless given the political situation. Guided by an old photo of the house and the numerous stories she heard, Khamis Giacoman nears the house that settled in her and in her family’s imagination. By holding its legacy up to the light of reality, it becomes clear that this paradisiacal place is incompatible with the here and now. Similar to the past, the house remains closed; it can only be approached from the outside.
Francisca Khamis Giacoman (1988, Palestine, Chile) is an Amsterdam-based artist and designer. She finished her M.A. at Sandberg Instituut and master program of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in 2020. Her work has been exhibited at Kunstverein Amsterdam; Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam; PuntWG, Amsterdam; Stroom, Den Haag; Stadium, Berlin, among others.
Credits As close as I get:
Sound design: Arif Kornweitz
Arabic translation: Siwar Kraitem
Special thanks to Labibe Khamis, Kareem K. Khalid and Hussam Malash