The Faraway Nearby



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Artists in Dialogue 

  • Lipika Bhargava : Naho Taruishi

  • Jamie Ho: Junli Song

  • sooim lee : Xinyi Liu

  • Kazumi Tanaka : Jayoung Yoon 


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©2024  The Faraway Nearby. All Rights Reserved.
Yasi Alipour : Kyoung eun Kang
June    July   August    September    October


October, 2023


Dear Yasi,


I am thinking of last Tuesday when we finally reconnected.
It had been so long since we last met in person, so I was very excited to see you. You looked excited too.
When we last spoke, I told you that I wanted to dance with you when we met again.
I wanted to dance with you even though I don’t know how to dance.

We are both so busy, but we found the time to meet on Tuesday. You were taking your students to a show at the Museum of Modern Art. I met up with you beforehand.

At the Sculpture Garden at MoMA, we both placed one hand on each other’s shoulder and slowly moved our feet, following each other’s steps.
The intimate space created between you and I was the center of our world. I heard your gentle breathing, felt the warmth of your hand and the rocking of your body.
I led you, you led me, I led you, you led me.
We followed our own rhythm in silence.
با احترام

Kyoung

Dear Kyoung,


I have been looking for papers
For surfaces
For a space that can hold all the words I can’t say
My heart / my head heavy

I’ve been moving between these books
Was it Edward Said writing to remember as cancer was taking over
Is it Theresa Hak Kyung Cha to the mother, in languages of loss

Kyoung,
Sometimes I try to raise the volume of these headphones
Until I can hear nothing
Until I emanate a vibration that says; I can hear nothing anymore
So loud, Until it kind of hurts
Until I can
My skin
My bones
My head
I
Can feel what sits heavy on this heart


These days sometimes someone smiles at me
Looking at the book I hold
A neighbor of geographical heritage asking me where I’m from
They smile
We smile at each other

Because we are scared
Because how long can a heart break

A generation after generation
Break

We smile


I saw words years ago
Glued tight on a window
Half ripped
University of Tehran

It said “we will remain green”
It broke my heart as if I could see fifteen years later
So I took a photo and lost it


Now I look for this other one
A caption under a video
Where they dance
A title

این_ها خوش_حالند و شاد. چقدر خوب! شادی هنر است. امید که شادی_ها ماندگار باشد

(They are happy, good fortunes. How beautiful! Happiness is an art. In the hope that these happy moments remain)

Art

I break

I fold


It’s been years.





June    July   August    September    October


September 25th, 2023



Dear Yasi,

امیدوارم حال شما خوب باشد.



After spending two months with my family in Korea, I finally came back to New York City.
Strangely, it was difficult to adjust to the slow and stagnant life in my hometown because I was used to the bustling New York City lifestyle.

As soon as I arrived, I had to return to the life I put on my pause: teaching art to students and taking part in an artist studio program in Brooklyn, and finding time for myself.

Near my studio, there is a park that overlooks the Brooklyn Bridge, the East River and glittering skyscrapers. I would love to show you around the park if you come visit me. Watching the sunset with someone beside you makes it even more magnificent.
I feel like I am living in New York City for real.

I know you have been busy with the start of a new semester. Teaching multiple courses at different schools must leave little time for yourself and your art.

Even if we are in the same city, it has been difficult for us to find time to meet.
I was hoping to see you last Saturday but it couldn’t happen.
I was not sure why I was so upset that day, perhaps because I wanted to see you so bad.

Yasi,

I want to see you.

I want to see your hand.

I want to see your palm, your hand creases, your secrets, your universe.

If we can meet this Saturday, I would like to take a picture of your hand.
If not, I want you to take a picture of your hand. Put your palm side of hand in front of you and take a close up shot with the sky in the background for me and share it with me.

من منتظرم به زودی ببینمت.


Warmly, 
Kyoung


Yasi Alipour: 












June    July   August    September    October


Dear Yasi,

I'm staying in Korea a little longer than expected due to an unexpected health emergency.
I underwent a minor surgery last week and it went well.

I googled the Caspian Sea where both of your parents came from.
I saw images of people playing and bathing in the water. I feel the heat, smell and the grains of sand. I imagine your grandparents, your parents and yourself looking at the sea together.

Today I found a small box in a room where my mother had kept my things from when I was growing up. Inside, there were numerous handwritten letters I received from my middle school and high school friends. During recess, my friends and I used to pass notes to each other on small pieces of paper. We especially paid attention to our handwriting to make it prettier or cutier.

This was a way of showing how much we cared about each other. Reading these letters, I was struck by powerful nostalgia for those times. I remember how these early friendships felt like the center of my world.

After reading your last letter about your reunion with your middle school friend and looking at my old friends’ letters, I have a strong urge to write you a handwritten letter. What if I write in Farsi to you? Would it be more personal than writing in English?

I never had a chance to learn Farsi but this interests me. I wrote a short letter for you in both Korean and Farsi. I translated Korean into Farsi through an online translation program and then wrote it by hand. I found myself wondering about the nuances of certain Korean words I used in the letter, and how they would be translated and understood in Farsi.

I hope these meanings come through in the translation.


PS. Can you teach me a few words in Farsi when I am back in September?


Kyoung

Letter to Yasi in Korean, 2023, 8x11”, pencil on paper




Part 1:

Dear Kyoung,

I opened our drive. I glanced over knowing I was late. (It always takes me too long to answer, as if I get lost in all the time zones in the world.)
And I couldnt’ help it.
I saw Farsi and I went there, in disbelief.
Your handwriting was beautiful. I really couldn’t understand how it could be that suddenly your hand knew farsi, so clearly.
I imagined that you had found a friend, a young Iranian who wanted to write with you.
Your scribbles had the accent of my earliest friendships. I felt like I was back in the first years of school.

I used to wait for the day to begin or end
for friends to come or for fam to pick us up,

there was a stream, running through the chaotic streets of Tehran,
The edges protected by bricks,
the center grounded with stones, big and small.

It wasn’t water to swim in or even to get close too.
Tehran was too polluted by the time we found the streams.
They were mostly there, between the streets and the side walk,
It seems like, The streams were there so you’d learn how to jump.

Those days we were too small.
Sometimes I’d sit on those bricks, with the deepest friendship I found in elementary school.
The real world seemed to be running too late
so we had time,
that’s all we had.

And even though we were 8 or 9,
Deep in my heart I know
our conversations were braided by poetry and philosophy.

Kyoung, thank you for the tenderness of your hand
and all the ways you witness.

My thoughts are with you. I got worried about the emergency and I hope you are recovering.

I can’t wait to see you soon, Kyoung
To have coffee in this faraway place.


Yasi


PS
I had promised myself to keep it short this times
and now I will be searching for stones


“I had to find a way to write it
as it was to fly away (with me)

She was held”



Part 2:

Dear Kyoung,

I went back in images.
This year I didn’t make it to Iran and it sits heavy on my heart.
So I was suddenly there,
in images images from a year ago.

Dear Kyoung, I wish I could be with you, seeing the Caspian Sea a new, through stories, left with Images.

I had a question that came in days where I missed Iran the most and it felt the furthest away:

How do you measure the life of a house plants.

How about all these clippings that I hold to live with the presence of my friends?

My grandmother has always had her world of plants.

And if she makes her a carrot juice, she shares the process with the plants

Kyoung, I’ve known that I can’t smuggle her plants from Iran.
They are the invasive species they police at the borders

And yet I want to try, try to continue her plants infinitely

Kyoung, did I ever tell you? When we were kids, doing our homeworks at hers (or actually just doodling)
She would sharpen our pencils in the kitchen
With her knives,
brought from her hometown

Small, small, that I lost it to the Capsian sea.


Yasi





June    July   August    September    October


Dear Yasi,

I am so sorry to hear that you fell and got a small fracture.
I wish I could come to visit you and help you with anything you might need.
I wish you a speedy recovery.

It’s already been three weeks since I came to my hometown.
I am resting and recharging here. I finally get to eat delicious 장어국, the eel soup, my mother’s special dish.
I feel like I have become a little girl again who needs consistent care from her parents.

I see my mother’s bent back and my father’s thin legs which I haven’t noticed before. I feel that my parents are getting older faster every year.
Watching this aging process often saddens me.

My biggest concern has been figuring out how to take care of them remotely while living in New York. This concern has become so great that I have started to wonder if I should continue living here.
I have learned a lot in New York working as an artist and an art educator, engaging with diverse artist communities, and seeing great artworks, but my worry for my parents and not being able to look after them has become so consuming. I wonder if it is worth it.

Since I have been living abroad for over a decade, I am eager to reconnect with my family and work on rebuilding and maintaining those relationships. I have begun to work with my family remotely and closely in a way that has allowed me to cultivate and reflect upon the value of such bonds and affection.

Here in my hometown, I continue videotaping my parents, capturing their voices, movements, and the space between them and myself.
I hope that by doing this I am able to preserve them in this moment in video.

Yasi,

Coming from Iran, I believe you might have similar experiences to me considering we are both immigrant artists. I wonder what family and friends from your hometown mean to you and how you have coped with homesickness if you ever had to.


PS. I would like to share a picture of a view from my parents’ home in 진해. You will see the sea in the distance which I know you love. How do you like the sea in my hometown?

Unfortunately, you cannot swim here because there is no beach. I will be back in New York in August. Until then, please take care of yourself.


Warm regards,
Kyoung eun
July 24 ,2023


A view from my parents’ home, Jin Hae, South Korea


My dear Kyoung,

That photograph. To be able to see the water, smell its presence.

I, I myself grew up in a city landlocked and roofed by the pollution of us, stuck in traffic.
But I grew up with the knowledge that both my parents came from the Caspian sea.
That all my grandparents knew air that smelled like the the sea, held its salt.

These days I wonder about all i want to write and then i totally lose language.

I saw a middle school friend last week. She lives in Australia, visiting New York.
Last time I had seen her, it was the last day of middle school.

I remember that day, cause I knew it was the end of something but I didn’t know the meaning of last days.
So we spend the last day like many other days, laughing, being silly, causing chaos, and then running to our parent’s cars, heading home.

And then I got to my mom’s car, she began driving and I found myself crying.
I hadn’t told anyone I’m gonna miss them, that they were important to me, that I loved them, we just had one of our days.
And now suddenly it was all too late. I felt silly, crying in a car. Just a casual day in a busy city.

This time, meeting in this city that belonged to neither one of us,
We went and said hi to the ocean.
We got to the Atlantic. The waves were playing games, inviting us in and then turning rough.

We speak in farsi, the way we did back in school.
Excited by our foul mouth, by our performance of masculinity, by laughing too loud…

It was a long time ago and it was now.

And then Kyoung, there was this moment. When I was showing the old friend how to ride the new waves.
She too comes from a family that belonged to the Caspian sea. So we both grew surrounded by our siblings and cousins, riding the waves of that sea. It’s as if our body was growing shaped by the waves.
Our parents waiting for us at the beach, yelling wise words when needed, giving us hints

And then suddenly it was now. We stood in the ocean, our elders and ancestors so far away.
And as I tried to show her my new moves, I realized that my body was learning the language of this ocean.


I fell in the gap of the train that wanted to move.
There with my beloved, I entered the train.
There was fear in the eyes,
I tried to give them comfort.


I kept repeating: “I’m ok, I’m ok, …. I’m ok”

But there was pain. Such deep deep pure pain.

Tears were running down my face. And I didn’t even notice.

Her eyes were full of kindness and worry.
We held hands.

“I’m Ok”

New Yorkers know how to turn away their gaze, not see you while you are there.

And suddenly I was grateful for this imagined space we were offered.

We held hands.


Yasi


PS: Kyoung jan, will you try to find me a spiral, a stone, a sea creature, a inanimate body bending?
I hope you get to hug your parents, have quiet moments with them, eat breakfast, gossip, talk about the news, drink a simple beverage, spend simple time together.
Will you bring me a sheet one can write on (a paper)?

I’m sorry my letter never found its way to you. I will be gathering moments for you.
I’m hoping to see another ocean this summer.
It always runs deep to my core when I don’t get to go to Iran. It will soon be more than a year.

PS2: I found a cafe here in sunset park. Run by two cousins. It felt like home. Maybe one day we can go together.




June    July    August    September    October


Dear Yasi,

I hope you are having a great summer.

How is the weather in NYC? It has been raining a lot in Korea for several days, but the sun is coming out today.

During our studio visits, we talked about our childhood memories and how memories are stored through bodily experiences. I found it interesting when you said you remembered how to braid hair with your hand movements.

I’ve always wanted to have a sister who could braid my hair. Since we are far away, I’d appreciate it if you could take a video showing your hand gestures for hair braiding and send it to me. I would like to braid my hair according to your video.

When I speak or share messages with you, I feel a sisterhood gradually forming between us. I am excited to see how our relationship will evolve through our collaborative journey.


Talk soon,
Kyoung eun




Dear Kyoung,

I’m watching our video, our hands.
Thinking about the silence we share.
I have long wondered (worried, longed for, suspended belief in) words like sisterhood.
But I hear the shared silences surrounding us.

I hear birds.


I think they come from your corner of the world, where your hair is braiding.

I feel intimacy growing


New York weather has had all the turns. Now it is humid. Hope I get to say hi to the ocean today. Last time I was there, it was very angry and the birds were confused.
Only after I left, I realized the air was gone, we and the ocean and the birds were breathing in clouds of fires and things burning.


I spent hours folding yesterday. Kyoung, you felt present. I can’t wait to see where this collaboration/ this together-coming will take us.

Brooklyn misses you and your kindness.

How’s home?
Best,
Yasi

Ps: I like ending my emails with an image. It’s kind of a way of including a mini gift, or perhaps find a way out of language. I’ll put it on our drive. Titled July, Image 1, Image 2.

Ps2: Please send me your address for the next couple of weeks. Would love to send you a physical letter. (Kyoung, I wonder what this means in the world we live, but:)
I believe in things that can be touched.
And you know how to witness the hand.
It’s nothing short of magic.