Katya Izabel Filmus – United Kingdom

(Residency at Givat Haviva Collaborative Art Center)

Katya Izabel Filmus, a British artist presents an installation of found objects, cast glass and latex works that she has made during her residency at Givat Haviva.  ‘First generation – Last Generation’ also contains a video that presents a series of eight 1-minute extracts from train journeys across Europe. It is presented behind a frosted glass ‘screen’. It poetically evokes notions of travel and migration, a metaphor that is also embodied in adjacent works.  On the wall, a series of four embroidered latex skins refer to some of the artist’s family ongoing diasporic peregrinations. The navel is a central feature as it symbolises the link between successive generations, and is also a potent form of scar tissue. The contours of various national borders have been stitched on the epidermises, and evoke a patina of transnational peregrinations.

Below the skins, a wall shelf displays various glass and other objects. This eclectic and highly aestheticized ensemble is displayed in a manner that emphasizes conjunctions between materials and their symbolic connections. Objects include a cast glass book that contains a text by the Palestinian poet, Kamal Nasser (1925-1973), a brutally chopped, desiccated olive root – a potent shared cultural symbol of local agriculture and resistance; a replica of an elaborate Victorian trivet that would have been used on an open fire to support a tea pot and an elegant brass hanging scale, with imperial measurements, both allude to the formation and standardisation of colonial knowledge systems.  Collectively Filmus’ works investigate highly personal negotiations of multiple, transnational identities.

The Last Poem (Kamal Nasser)

Beloved, if perchance word of my death reaches you

As, alone, you fondle my only child

Eagerly awaiting my return,

Shed no tears in sorrow for me

For in my homeland

Life is degradation and wounds

And in my eyes the call of danger rings.

Beloved, if word of my death reaches you

And the lovers cry out:

The loyal one has departed, his visage gone forever,

And fragrance has died within the bosom of the


Shed no tears…smile on life

And tell my only one, my loved one,

The dark recesses of your father’s being

Have been touched by visions of his people.

Splintered thoughts bestowed his path

As he witnessed the wounds of oppression.

In revolt, he set himself a goal

He became a martyr, sublimated his being

even changed his prayers

Deepened their features and improvised

And in the long struggle his blood flowed

His lofty vision unfolded shaking even destiny.

If news reaches you, and friends come to you,

Their eyes filled with cautious concern

Smile to them in kindness

For my death will bring life to all;

My people’s dreams are my shrine

at which I pray, for which I live.

The ecstasy of creation warms my being,

shouting of joy,

Filling me with love, as day follows day,

Enveloping my struggling soul and body.

Immortalized am I in the hearts of friends

I live only in others’ thoughts and memories.

Beloved, if word reaches you and you fear for me

Should you shudder and your cheeks grow pale

As pale as the face of the moon,

Allow it not to look upon you, nor

feast on the beauty of your gaze

For I am jealous of the light of the moon.

Tell my only one, for I love him,

That I have tasted the joy of giving

And my heart relishes the wounds of sacrifice.

There is nothing left for him

Save the sighs from my song…Save the remnants

of my lute

Lying piled and scattered in our house.

Tell my only one if he ever visits my grave

And yearns for my memory,

Tell him one day that I shall return

to pick the fruits. 

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