Khobs & Chai, is an audio-visual conversation that revisits my childhood memories of baking Middle-Eastern bread with my grandmother. When I was younger, she often shared stories of living through the fall of the monarchy in Iraq, the Iran-Iraq war and the Gulf war. Despite experiencing difficult and horrifying events, my grandmother’s spirit has always been positive and warm. This short film is a platform for her to share the timeless wisdom and positive energy that she exudes. Spending time in the kitchen allowed me to learn about her life and the many hardships Iraqi-women have faced over the years. My grandmother has been living with my family for twenty years now, and has pretty much raised me. Through this conversation, I wanted to explore the question: what kind of life lessons do elders and motherly-figures teach us?
Working with the medium of stop-motion has been an eye-opening experience that allowed me to focus on time in a whole different way. Each image is shot at a frame-rate of a half a second, accumulating into minutes and then compressed again into seconds. My grandmother has a playful and young at heart personality and I wanted to draw from that energy. Stop-motion was the perfect medium in recreating a lighthearted atmosphere. I found inspiration from animated films that I often watched growing up, like Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) or Corpse Bride (2005).
The New Sumerians Project
Sundus Abdul Hadi
Born in 1985 in Baghdad, and lives in Ontario, Canada.
Digital Composite Image & Photography
Around 7,000 years ago, an ancient civilization known as the Sumerians settled along the banks of the Euphrates river, modern day Iraq. Their story gives clues as to our origin. Time was established as we still perceive it, and their advanced understanding of the cosmos and astronomy suggests that our ancestors had a certain access to the celestial sphere that has since been lost in translation.
THE NEW SUMERIANS is an evolving project that honours the ancestry we carry as displaced peoples. In collaboration with photographer Ahmad Nasereldein, I have created portraits that I have manipulated with the sculpted facial and body parts of Ancient Sumerians, starting with the 5,000 year old mask of “The Lady of Uruk”. This iteration begins with my origin story: my family— the microcosm. This process of transformation pays homage to our celestial ancestors, despite the passage of time and the circumstances that have propelled us away from our homeland.
These ancient sculptures carry our burdens and have witnessed our pillage. The New Sumerians is part of a larger exploration rooted in storytelling and world-building; a supernatural dimension where ancestors live amongst the unborn, and intergenerational burdens transform into wisdom.