photo by Claudia Zamora

The Khayamiyya Monument

The Khayamiyya Monument is an alternate war monument made of the personal writings of women from the African and Arab diasporas and female U.S. veterans who fought in the Wars on Terror.

Over many months, I shared space with women ESL learners at a community center in Brooklyn. They were refugees and immigrants from Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Morocco. I would introduce a line of poetry around themes of gender for us to interpret together in Arabic. The women were asked to freely respond, in writing, from their personal experiences. U.S. female veterans who had fought in Iraq were then asked to respond to some of the immigrant women’s writings. I traced excerpts of all these writings onto canvas to create a severed tent, in both Arabic and English.

I also collaborated with the ESL center to hold a women-only open mic as the opening of the piece. Over 100 women attended this event and read heartfelt stories of war, exile, and resilience, with the monument as a backdrop. 

 photo by Claudia Zamora

photo by Claudia Zamora

 photo by Jennifer Coard

photo by Jennifer Coard

Documentation of the process with photos by Claudia Zamora, Jennifer Coard, and myself. Sound is Emma Ali and I discussing interpretation of one woman’s writing.