Katya Traboulsi: Rej3a Ya Mama
Mother country, mother Identity,
mother family, mother traditions,
mother love, mother nurturing,
mother earth, mother confort,
mother home. I’ll be back safe.
‘Within the context of this tumultuous history of war and departure, the Rej3a ya mama statement is a reminder of the impatient wait for the return of our children, those who left their country, their homes and their roots… and their return to mother, family and homeland.
The departure trucks that criss-cross the length and breadth of Lebanon seem to seek a divine protection: ma cha’a Allah. In the hands of God, the trucks implore god and family reda Allah oua reda al walidain, and protect themselves from the envious al 3ein al hasoud toubla bil 3ama. My question is, when does belief in religion begin and where does superstition end.
The visuals on our trucks rear back doors belong to the Lebanese heritage and the identity of the drivers. This identity is translated by a decorative design or visual often symmetrical, like the human body. In the middle, the core is mainly dedicated to god willing and for the evil eye. It represents one of the most common visuals on these trucks, a five thousand year old concept, that has been adopted by many religions and cultures to protect main possessions and loved ones.
Throughout our dramatic Lebanese history, old and recent, the clash between invasions, dependencies, travels and migrations has created a national feeling of anxiety around the stigma that our children will never return. However, if this anxiety holds us hostage, it also represents a national hope, sometime the only remaining breath that we hold.’
The trucks are the blood that run in the veins of many countries.
On each back rear truck door or tailgate, messages circulate; advice, menace, a love word, a prayer, an amulet against the evil eye. These words are for the driver like a teaching, a personal expression, an escape, a cry…
For us and for a brief moment in a traffic jam, we connect, smile, learn and think.
Katya Traboulsi is a prominent multimedia artist who was born in 1960 in Beirut. Her work is deeply rooted in the social and cultural identifications of Lebanon and reflects the emotional intensity of the Lebanese civil war and its aftermath. Traboulsi’s paintings and sculptures are characterised by her bold use of colour, which challenges the viewer’s expectations of the subject matter.
Traboulsi spent nearly three decades living and working in Dubai, where she continued to create art and exhibit her work internationally. Her artwork has been displayed in major art centers around the world, including Paris, London, Dubai, Kuwait, North America, and the International Armory Show in New York City.
Traboulsi’s art is known for its ability to convey complex themes and emotions through simple yet powerful imagery. Her work often incorporates elements of Lebanese culture and tradition, and she has become well-known for her use of the Lebanese pick-up truck as a symbol of national identity and cultural heritage.
Despite spending many years living abroad, Traboulsi’s connection to her native Beirut remained strong, and she eventually returned to the city where she continues to create art and inspire others with her powerful and thought-provoking work.
Katya Traboulsi: Rej3a Ya Mama
Location: Saleh Barakat Gallery, Beirut
Duration: March 10 – April 22 2023