“On foreign made soles” is a seven channel video installation that addresses migrations, displacement and a perpetual conflict between longing and criticism of a lost home. This video reenacts a very private, yet common, fantasy of people who never returned to their hometowns: a fantasy of returning home to simply be there for a little while.
In June 2015, I traveled to my hometown Tashkent, in Uzbekistan, for the first time since leaving in 1990. I filmed a project in collaboration with Ilkhom Theater, and a cast of seven local actresses. In the video the actresses play versions of me performing my homecoming.
The video begins as two channels: on one channel, the first actress performs a scene of me returning to the apartment where I grew up and asking the current tenants if she can walk in and take a look. On the second channel I direct the actress in real time. After Actress 1 finishes her performance, Actress 2 performs the exact same scene while Actress 1 plays me as the director of the scene and I direct her (now in the role of the director). Actresses add up in that manner, directing each other; similarly, channels add up, so that each actress is on a separate channel. The actresses, being local women who never left Tashkent, add their own interpretation and improvisations to the scene. The original score of the piece responds to the progression of the story: each channel has its own repetitive score, musical instruments proliferating as actresses/channels increase.
The historical and political implications are exceedingly prevalent for this project, as the migration in 1990 was a controversial issue in Uzbekistan (as well as other republics of former USSR). Some blamed the migrants for “betraying” the country, while others seemed inclined to follow in their steps. In dialogues with local people that still live there, many expressed sadness and frustration about being abandoned by the migrants and there is a feeling of trauma on both sides: those who left and those who were left behind.