A collective memory of migration and cultural diversity


Embroidered Memories was created 24 months ago and it is an adventure in research and production between a group of Parisian craftsmen, a photographer and myself. It is an art project that speaks of collective memory and migration, of sharing and of cultural diversity, up-cycling and a new process of collaborative production.

The results, soon to be completed, include a series of hybrid objects and photos in a traveling exhibition. Two museums, ‘La Piscine’, an Art and Industry museum in Roubaix and the furniture Museum of Hazebrouck have pledged to host our exhibition. Other museums in France and abroad have expressed their interest for an exposition between 2014 and 2016.

The idea for this project began to form in my head for some time after returning from a trip to Jerusalem. It all started during a walk in the Muslim Quarter of the old city where I found myself in conversation with a textile and embroidery merchant. Mahmud showed me his collection of extraordinary Palestinian dresses, and I discovered a treasure. After learning that some dresses were made by hand 30-40 years ago, I was amazed by the fineness of the work. Upon returning to Paris I plunged into the study of these symbols and motifs, their origins and their unique technique. I was driven by the idea that such expertise deserved to be updated. I wished to incorporate these symbols into new objects and combine them with western taste, colors, trends.

Through a friend in Paris I contacted Nadima in Damascus who organizes a group of embroiderers with whom we were able to produce the first adapted pieces.
We faced many challenges to give life to this project: the difficult political situation in Damascus deteriorated significantly, the lack of confidence, our language differences, the different visual culture . Yet, we overcame all of these differences thereby achieving the richness of this project. These pieces were later harmonized with Israeli embroideries according to my compositions, and worked on by an embroider in Paris. Together they represent my native land; they symbolize the birthplace of the immigrant.

My search for Israeli Jewish embroidery continues. But what is Jewish embroidery in Israel? I remember as a child the Russian embroidery on shirts of the generation of my parents or the embroidery of the Jews of Yemen. Every Jewish migration has brought the expertise of its country of origin by incorporating Jewish symbols. I decided to search for Jewish embroidery in Israel today, but where? 
After a long search, I found associations promoting Israeli-Ethiopian Jewish embroidery and met a Moroccan embroider. The language and cultural barrier is at the heart of the complexity of this project. Thanks to the willingness of all partners, and excessive patience, we were able to introduce beautiful pieces, like the Queen of Sheba and the Jewish God represented by a lion into the project.

This adventure is only just beginning as the first stage of research for material is well advanced. I gathered the materials, started searching for furniture in Paris to represent my adoptive land. Through a process of directed randomness,’ materials were found, recycled then rediscovered in the construction of the new objects.

I made contact with extraordinary craftsmen who are sensitive to the concept and it is with them that the real processes of the creation of the final art works started. Our team, based in Paris, is composed of:

Tal Waldman (Talva Design), creator and conductor of the project; Jennyfer Moret, haute couture embroiderer; Romain Maldague, cabinetmaker and restorer; Philippe Moreau, upholsterer; Hubert Kerléo, contemporary cabinetmaker; Pascal Frisa, contemporary cabinetmaker; Christine Bruckner, ceramist; Alain N., upholsterer; Thomas Bremond, photographer.

The project is built around a new experimental model of collaborative and circular production between us, based on up-cycling. For more information and the rest of the story in Paris. Please visit the link http://bit.ly/1aWIyDM to dive into the world of this project that needs your support today in order to complete the production. We have 6 more days to reach our goal with a crowd funding platform. If you believe in a committed artistic creation, cultural diversity, interdisciplinary, and sustainability then please support our project!