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This Space That Inhabits Us
by Phyllis Katrapani

HOME: This space that inhabits us, this space we inhabit.

Does this land not yet rent, the land of protected childhood, really exist? This space in a time we have left behind? How can we arrive at the home that belongs only to us?

Following my film Ithaque (1997), an allegory of Odysseus' return to his native island, I wanted to better define the meaning of a house, of a home, of this space that inhabits us and which we inhabit. The place we return to, if only in our thoughts. What if it were only a myth?

Although I feel attached to my birthplace, Montreal, there has always been the presence of an elsewhere in me. A desire for something that I have perhaps not yet lived. A nostalgia for the places where my parents were born and grew up. Even though I visited them regularly, I sometimes felt that these places were neither me nor mine. Idealizing my roots worried me.

These questions came to be reflected in my most recent work, HOME (2002), a film that depicts a character torn between two worlds. This man appears in different shots, each one suggestive of an aspect of home: region, family, land of origin. Beside him, a woman expresses the desire to build something tangible, something concrete, something here and now. Around this couple an enigmatic character, the Poet, represents mental space: the inner landscape, the space inside us into which we withdraw, and where we can really find ourselves.

Among these fictitious shots, I devised scenes composed of images taken in Greece and Turkey - the lands of my origins. I call these scenes "images of my native lands". These images are linked to what the character sees.

It was also important for me to juxtapose my own experiences with those of others. This accounts for my desire to include documentary passages in the film, and to have the reality and the fiction develop on the same level. I asked men and women, immigrants or children of immigrants, where their home was. In this way, a more universal voice was added to the voice of the individual. Here the film seems to be asking human beings one and the same question: What are the conditions which create the feeling in each of us that we are at home, that we are safe?

Finding no precise answer to this question, I'm a little more serene. Belonging is a feeling that grows over time; something as mysterious as the memory of a smell, distant music, a light that comes from nowhere and overpowers us. This quest for a place we recognize, a place that resembles us, is a life quest no matter what kind of exile is involved.

Phyllis Katrapani is a photographer and filmmaker. She has produced and directed three films: Zatisi (Still Life) (1992), Ithaque (1997) and Home (2002). She also founded the production company ILE BLANCHE.

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