Viola Shafik

August 2020

When I applied for the residency I was hoping to reconnect to my (audio-)visual projects, spend the four weeks with my water colors and work on two of my documentary film projects. However, with less time at my hands than I had originally planned I found myself stuck with an academic book project on revolutionary Arab filmmaking that I was still wrapping up. By coincidence I was not the only writer at the residency. With Gisela, Mika and Sharon all of whom have longstanding experiences as authors I found a fruitful and understanding environment where I could share and exchange the joys and concerns of that process. Thus, I made enough progress to be happy with the experience, even more encouraged by the silence, the garden, the forest, and the little pond in the neighborhood where I had an occasional swim.

So far, so good, you think: that sounds like a pretty nice and easy going experience! But that’s not all to it: In the middle of my stay my previous involvement in a social-political NGO came haunting me: accusations of severe sexual harassment circulated against an important male member of our NGO and came as a shock. They forced particularly the women of organization to take a stand and hence became a catalyst for latent conflicts, but brought up also personal as well as shared memories of traumata which could not be disregarded. Therefore, in the end I found myself preparing and producing an installation for KuBa’s open day. They inspired me to produce a sort of female cabinet in which the emotions that had been triggered by that case of sexual harassment, the experience of physical and psychological abuse as well as their resolution could be reflected in a sort of catharsis. And of course, the nature of the numerous available spaces of the annexed buildings ignited my imagination. So did the three post cards that I had picked during out welcome ritual from Sharon’s and Mika’s big collection. I had no artistic ambition attached but, funny enough, it brought me back to my early days in Art Academy where I used to make these kind of installations and fulfilled on top my initial wish to reconnect to my (audio-)visual means of expression during the residency. Hence: thank you life, thank you Sharon, thank you Mika for this opportunity!