Hayırlısı Be Gülüm
HAYIRLISI BE GÜLÜM
Leaving your home and your known world to pursue a new and better life in a land of opportunity has never been easy, and it only seems more difficult in today's political climate. Immigrants are weary, and their feelings/memories are generally not discussed outside of a fictional setting. It is almost as if these resilient and brave people are not allowed to reminisce and miss their home of origin, and must remain thankful for the opportunity they've been given in their new country.
Hayırlısı Be Gülüm (Tur. let's hope for the best, my rose - a common expression for wishful thinking) is an incubator for these memories and feelings, particularly for Middle Eastern immigrants of various backgrounds and religions - a community which I am a part of. My aim was, and still is, to provide a platform of expression and hopeful catharsis for these people who may or may not have ever had a kindred spirit to listen to them and help them put their joy, sorrow and frustrations into a tangible medium.
Through interviews with 10 different immigrants, 10 art books were made in visual collaboration with each interviewee.
Each book represents a different milestone in the typical immigration journey of our culture.
The interviewees will be kept anonymous throughout this project for protection.
Chapter 1: A Country Torn
Age: 25 | Origin: Iraq | Status: Refugee
She provided me with mental images of her hometown being raided and bombed, wondering if she would ever make it past her 18th birthday as her family home was ripped to shreds; glass shards and gun residue flying everywhere. The initial step to every journey is a place that should be left.
Chapter 2: The Decision
Age: 36 | Origin: Lebanon | Status: Immigrant
After a considerable amount of time in an abusive relationship, she decided to take a chance and leave Beirut and all of its beauty and horror behind. She had hoped her decision to leave abruptly would change him, but it did not. She left immediately, although she still calls him the love of her life.
Chapter 3: The Decision II
Age: 56 | Origin: Turkey | Status: Alien
Growing up in the secular regime years of Turkey, she did not expect the county to crumble to the status it is in today. Despite being exceptionally bright and talented, she was told from a young age that leaving was never an option and she would not be able to make it in a foreign land by herself.
Chapter 4: Nostalgia
Age: 19 | Origin: Lebanon | Status: Visa Holder
This is the first year that she has spent away from home, and she found herself reminiscing deeply and missing every little thing that she has previously taken for granted. She told me that she is now realizing this transition is almost between parallel universes; from East to West.
Chapter 5: The Embassy
Age: 21 | Origin: Iran | Status: Immigrant
Being an openly gay man in Iran, he knew from a very young age he needed to get out in order to lead his life on the level of public freedom and acceptance that he desired. He focused on the different mannerisms and the environment of a United States Consulate, and how they treat people who are looking for a path into the country.
Chapter 6: The Rejection
Age: 28 | Origin: Iraq | Status: Alien
He had been accepted to an Ivy League college with a full scholarship, however could not attend because of his student visa applications being constantly denied. He focused on the frustration and disappointment of having success and a better life so close to him, yet so far.
Chapter 7: Aliens
Age: 26 | Origin: Turkey | Status: Immigrant
Being a Kurd and an avid socialist in Turkey, she was no stranger to oppression and discrimination. When she left for the United States, she had no false hopes of inclusivity and a fluffy, happy life. 'Aliens' she told me, 'That's what they call us. Do you think they care even remotely about us?'
Chapter 8: The Arrival
Age: 16 | Origin: Yemen | Status: Undocumented
Her family came over in secrecy. When they had her, it was not in a hospital. She was never asked if she wanted this, it was simply her reality from day one. While others back in Yemen call this a golden opportunity, she knows that she can never reap the benefits of living in this country legally.
Chapter 9: Uninvited
Age: 21 | Origin: Turkey | Status: Visa Holder
This is my own chapter. Upon arriving to the US, my first year was a myriad of realizations that I was very much unwelcome, and I felt as if I was intruding. Constantly being reminded of my foreign status and temporary rights to stay, every waking moment is a self-evaluation of my actions.
Chapter 10: First Generation
Age: 42 | Origin: Yemen | Status: Immigrant
After completing a 10-year-long documentation battle, he has settled into the New York life and runs a bodega in Brooklyn. His wife came over with him, and they had their two children here. Three years ago, she passed away and left him with his two 'angels.' He reflects on their long journey.