A Foreign Home discusses the disruption of childhood memory, showcasing the visual layers of how memory is stored, received and reflected. Discussing my identity as a Pakistani-born Canadian, I reveal the story of my family’s immigration and how it directly affected my memory of the past, present and future. As a child immigrant, I look to question how the journey to finding a better place can severely impact the memory of what is considered home to a person.
In 1997, I was born in Peshawar, Pakistan. At the age of 4, my family and I immigrated to New York in October 2001, one month after 9/11. Six months after, we permanently immigrated to Toronto, Canada. That time in my life has always felt like a purgatory, a memory suspended in time. The drastic move between two different worlds altered the memory of my childhood and blurred the lines of reality and imagination. Most of the memories of my childhood and historical understanding of the place where I was born comes from the photography of my father. These rare memories are from the deepest parts of my mind; reawakened by the stories told by my parents, the pictures I have seen, and the documents my family kept.
This series fundamentally shows the visual structure of how memory is seperated by time. The first set of memories are blurred and scattered in my mind about my upbringing, childhood, and home. The second set of memories are tied to gestures my mother made in an effort to distract me from the harsh reality of immigration. When I was a child travelling to foreign places, I have one memory that stands out the most and it is of paper boats. In airports, train stations, and bus stops, my mother would show me how to make paper boats, distracting me from the reality that I had little to none toys to play with. It was a pass-time amidst all the chaos surrounding us. The fabric that the hands are placed on are traditional pieces of Pakistani clothing that my mother wore. These memories are incredibly vivid in my mind, they succeed at making my mind forget about how difficult that time in my life was for my myself and for my family. Ironically, the biggest memories are overshadowed by a minisucle memory of a small interaction I had with my mother, showing how the smallest distractions can affect a child’s memory for years to come.
Ultimately, A Foreign Home is the analysis of childhood memory disruption due to immigration and the removal of a known place on the journey of finding an eventual home, questioning whether home is the place we are born, the place we journey to, or the place where we die.