Home Away from Home / My American cousins, 2017
When I was with my cousins, at home, at work, or during family gatherings, I spent my time on the lookout, with camera at hand.
I wanted to capture people in their daily routine without being overly intrusive; to be delicately present in order to catch moments on the fl y. While I took a few posed photographs, I feel most comfortable with environmental portraits taken spontaneously. I wanted to capture the in-between moments.
The fact that I was immersed as part of the family allowed me to capture moments that I could not have lived and seen, except from the inside, by being there. Of course, such interiority, such lack of border between myself and others, between Taysir the cousin and Taysir the artist, was not easy. My full involvement in my cousins’ lives allowed no distance from my subject, no time out. Needless to say, I also became an exterior eye, a third party, the receptacle for our family history. For a rather quiet and solitary person like me, this was far from comfortable.
From the beginning of my fi rst stay, a strange, even disturbing phenomenon occurred. As I was observing the faces, the gestures, the expressions and attitudes of my cousins, I began to notice, through them and in recurring ways, the ghosts of other family members. In Ahmed, I saw his mother, my aunt Salha; then my father, who died in 1994. In Sobhi, I saw his brother Mosbah. This gave a sense of déjà vu, a form of family ties expanding through space and time: my cousins became “familiar strangers.”