The House That My Father Built


Consisting of a painting, photograph, tradition clothes and an animation film projected on surface. Commissioned by MATHAF, Arab Museum of Modern Art as a part of Told, Untold, Retold Exhibition, 2010 at the opening of MATHAF museum. curated by: Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath. 


> Photos of the artist’s parents taken in Baghdad in 1982 at studio Adel, Al Thawra City. Reproduced by the artist in the Netherlands, 2010. Each 40 x 50 cm. Lambda-print.


The House That My Father Built ...

6:12 minutes, Sound, 2010.


installation view

Selected images from MATHAF, Arab Museum of Modern Art, 2010 


Selected images from figures sketches

Pencil drawings, 2010


> Painting's detail, Once Upon a Time, 2010, 400 x 620 cm. Indian ink, rice paper and oil paint on linen.


Selected images from first animation's sketches

Charcoal drawings, 2010


Selected images from inkjet print

80 x 80 cm.


At artist’s studio, 2010


> Left: Clothes of the artist’s father after his death in 2009 at the family house in Baghdad.

> Right: Side of the room.

HSketch_089 13-28-18.jpg
HSketch_090 13-28-18.jpg
HSketch_091 13-28-18.jpg

> These 3 images from the first notes papers


Artist statement

The house that may father built,  (Once upon a time)

In the family house, and in my father’s room in particular, which was his guest room and daily sitting area, my feet shook as I entered the room after long years of expatriation. His clothes, which were hanging there in a corner, were the first things I laid eyes on. That was a very intense and emotional moment to me.

This is then what is left of my father...!? 
His kufiyeh “head cover”, agal “headband”, praying beads, and traditional clothing. They were all deeply rooted in his identity and sentiment. They, with his big old collection of coffee pots made part of his dignity, respect and sense of belonging.
They were hanging there, high, tidy and clean, as always, ready to be worn, exactly as he used to hang them himself. They were leveled upright on the wall surrounded by lost ghosts and floating shadows, restless and anxious, pacing the room, swaying on the beat of his strong, deep voice which filled the room, together with the smell of fresh roasted coffee and the tunes of old sad Mawaweels.

This is then what is left of my father...!
A few Objects,
Hundreds of memories,
A grieving love which still fills my mother’s eyes,
And many unfinished tales.

A moment of confusion.
A world disappeared and a new one aroused, a more beautiful charming world.
Here in this room I used to sit next to him, sometimes on his lap or on my mother’s were I felt warm and happy switching between the two. I used to put my arms around his neck or dangle my legs over his broad shoulders, loudly laugh and sing. Here I used to play, run, dance draw and dream, sheltered by their presence and love.

Oh Lord, where do memories come from?
Where do they go?
Where do they disappear and in which cupboard are they set?
How do they suddenly return, so strong and so intense, which makes the whole world vanish, and then they fade as an old tale which once was.
A tale where boundaries get lost and dissolve in an unlimited world of tales.
I shiver as I now see this before my eyes.
A shiver of consciousness.

Imagine that your body is stretched up, getting taller and higher; you slightly bend to see what’s below you. You’ll see yourself among the crowd, anxiously moving within masses of people, things, memories and emotions. For a while, you’ll lose your balance as you realize that you are not but a little story or a lost tale in a universe of countless, endless tales. Then you know that you are both the story and the storyteller.

Wherever we go, however we change or grow old, “Once upon a time…”  would always be the words we carry within, long for and cherish. These words pull us towards memories and times, things and places, images and people that cannot be separated from us. “Once upon a time” is another version of ourselves from within.
‘Once upon a time” is me as I was born. It is me as a child. It is me a second ago, and will also be me as I die.
“Once upon a time” is our childhood, our school, our friends, family, dreams, needs and desires…. it is all our lives as we bear and are borne.

| Sadik Kwaish Alfraji, The Netherlands 2010



ذلك البيت الذي بناه ابي

في بيت العائله، وفي غرفة والدي التي هي مضيفه ومقعده، إرتبكت قدماي وأنا أدخلها بعد غربة سنين طويلة
كانت ملابسه، التي مازالت معلقة هناك، اول ما وقعت عيني عليه، كانت لحظة شديدة الكثافه

هذا إذن ما تبقى من أبي ؟
كوفية، عقال، مسبحة وثوب، كانت هي في عمق هويته ووجدانه، وكانت هي، مع دلال قهوته، هيبته وكرامته وانتمائه

كانت معلقة هناك، مرتفعه، مرتبة كما دائما، وجاهزة للارتداء، تماما كما كان والدي يعلقها بيديه، كانت تنتصب على الجدار ومن حولها أطياف وخيالات عائمه، قلقه، لا إستقرار فيها، تتحرك مع صوته الذي مازال يملأ الغرفة مع رائحة القهوة ومواويل حزينة نسجت بعنايه

هذا إذن ما تبقى من أبي ؟
عشق مازال ينبض في وجه امي
و حكايات لم تكتمل

كانت لحظة شديدة الإرباك
إختفى فيها عالم وانبثق عالم آخر أجمل وأحلى
هناك كنت اجلس جوار أبي، في حضنه، على كتفيه، أدور حوله وحول امي، أتنقل بين حضنين، وجهين، ومحبتين، أحلم، أنشد وأغني، أرقص، ألعب وأرسم

يا إلهي، من أين تأتي الذكريات ؟
وأين تذهب ؟
أين تختفي وفي أي خزانة توضع ؟
وكيف تعود بكثافة يختفي معها العالم، لتختفي مرة اخرى في صيغة حكاية كانت في يوم ما ؟
حكاية تضيع فيها حدود الأشياء وتذوب في عالم لا أطراف له

أشعر بالرعشة وأنا أنظر الى ذلك الآن
رعشة وعي

تخيل ان قامتك ترتفع للأعلى، وتطول أكثر فأكثر، فوق كل الأشياء، ثم تنحني لتنظر الى الأسفل… عندها سترى نفسك في الحشد تتحرك بانفعال داخل زحمة الأشياء والعواطف، حينها ستفقد توازنك وتدرك أنك لست اكثر من قصة قصيره، أو حكاية ضائعه بين كون من الحكايات التي لا نهاية لها
وستعرف انك انت الحكاية والحكواتي

أينما ذهبنا
و كيفما تغيرنا أو كبرنا
كان ياما كان هي الكلمات التي نحملها معنا
نَحّنُ إليها و … تدفعنا نحو ذكريات و ازمان
اشياء و اماكن
صور وأناس لا يمكن ان تنفصل عنا

كان ياما كان هي ما  نحن عليه
كان ياما كان هي أنا حين ولدت، و حين كنت طفلآ. هي انا قبل لحظات و ستبقى انا حين  أموت
كان ياما كان هي طفولتنا، مدرستنا، أصدقاؤنا  وأسرتنا، أحلامنا، حاجاتنا و رغباتنا…. هي  حياتنا التي نحملها وتحملنا

صادق كويش الفراجي
هولندا 2010



© Sadik Kwaish Alfraji