To Vedia (2016)

Single-channel video

It started with a letter I bought at a vintage store in Istanbul, when I travelled there in 2015. Only after I returned to the U.S. did I realize, despite the English written on the envelope, the letter itself was written in a language I do not identify. I forgot about this letter very quickly, and only thought about it when I was assigned with a prompt in a video art class: “a couple that exists as a couple separated.” I always loved the potentiality and imaginary spaces brought by a letter -- the one who writes and the one who receives have to be apart to make a letter possible.

I texted a friend from high school, who was at the time studying Arabic in Beirut, and sent him photos of the letter to see if he has a clue. He responded very quickly and told me that the letter was written in Ottoman Turkish and unfortunately, he can’t read it either. I texted thank you and looked again at the letter, realizing that I can’t even identify the cursive handwriting on the envelope. The only thing that I know, is the name of the recipient: “Vedia.”

The video is a fictionalized recount of the story above. The couple made and separate by the letter now has its double: me and my friend, separated by our physical locations, nonetheless met and talked again via an imaginary phone call. To Vedia concerns with the kind of relationship that was enabled by digitized communication, whose lack of genuinity, as it is usually criticized, might have rendered you and I as simultaneously together and separate. You only appear as an image to me -- if so, what does it be for me to be in certain relation with you? A relation that sees separation and difference as natural? If so, there might be a new perception of our lives born right out of it.